Northwestern Events Calendar


PAS L+L: Denielle Elliott - Scientific Collaborations and Legal Accountability in Kenya

When: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: 620 Library Place, room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 Evanston map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   (847) 491-7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Join the Program of African Studies as we provide lunch and a lecture.

Denielle Elliott, Anthropology, York University

Scientific Collaborations and Legal Accountability in Kenya: The KEMRI Six Case


In 2014, Kenya’s Industrial Court in the Samson Gwer v Kenya Medical Research Institute case ruled that the scientific research collaboration between Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), a state corporation, and Wellcome Trust and Oxford University of the United Kingdom (UK), had resulted in flagrant discrimination and violation of the rights of six Kenyan scientists involved in the project. However, Wellcome Trust and Oxford University evaded direct liability due to an earlier asymmetrical legal agreement concluded with KEMRI. The suit, judgment and remedies were levied against KEMRI and other Kenyan state agencies, despite the court explicitly acknowledging the principal role of UK actors. I suggest here that the KEMRI Six case makes visible the ways in which asymmetrical legal agreements empower global North collaborators (and former colonial powers) in scientific research collaborations to evade legal liability and moral responsibility for human rights violations by manipulating unrecognized spaces in national and transnational law. 


Denielle Elliott is a socio-cultural anthropologist who teaches on postcolonial and Indigenous science studies, the anthropology of biomedicine, and social suffering in the Departments of Social Science and Anthropology at York University in Toronto. Her recently completed monograph Reimagining Science and Statecraft in Postcolonial Kenya: Stories from an African Scientist (Routledge, 2018), explores the life of Kenyan scientist and political actor Davy Koech, his relationship with Daniel arap Moi, and the development of the Kenya Medical Research Institute as a critical site for global health research. She is also the co-editor of A Different Kind of Ethnography (UTP, 2017), a co-founder and co-curator of the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography, and the deputy-director of The Harriet Tubman Institute. 


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