Angela Okune Annotations

TEXT: Anything else? Exemplary quotes?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:15pm
  • AO: Foster argues that through a feminist decolonial technoscience approach, it becomes clear how certain forms of knowledge and matter are being valued over others, while notions of difference are stregthened through attachments to particular subjectivities, ways of knowing, and nonhuman matter (27).

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ECO: What material constraints are said to undergird science and technology work in Africa?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:14pm
  • AO: the way that hoodia plants grew slowly in the ground, spread their seeds widely, evolved in patchy spatial distributions and interacted with the human body (all shaped the very relations of law, science and market that tried to contain them).

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NANO: (How) is “Africa” invoked when the author discusses data (as a place with unique demands or responsibilities, for example)?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:13pm
  • AO: Foster cites Ruha Benjamin in describing “informed refusal” by some people who declined to talk to her. She also cites Ngar and Swarr “enacting accountability” meaning she responded to other needs and intersts of San peoles and others she worked with in South Africa such as electronic copies of articles, reviewing grant proposals, etc. She mentions an “ethic of reciprocity” that recognizes “mutual benefits received by both researchers and researchedd.” (21) She states that “practices of accountability and reciprocity have enabled me to find way of engaging in the rich, messay, and continually long process of, in the words of Kim TallBear, finding ways of “standing with” San peoples and producing “faithful knwoeldges” that are co-constituted with San interests.” (22)

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TECHNO: (How) does the analyst account for the data practices and responsibilities of the people and organizations studied?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:13pm
  • AO: Foster includes resources under Appendix 1 of community protocol and research guidelines for working with indigenous people (pages 133 - 134).

  • AO: She notes using email and Skype to build and maintain relationships even while not in South Africa.

  • AO: She notes that private legal documents and indigenous customary knowledge were rightly kept from her and she sought to practice and is subject to the kind of ethnographic refusal that Audra Simpson describes (“what you need to know and what I refuse to write in”). (24)

  • AO: As a group that has been heavily researched and have not felt like they received the benefits of the work, Foster notes the protocols and guidelines put in place to try to ammeliorate/address the lack of benefits from research.

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MICRO: What did the analyst choose to describe as “science” and/or “data” in Africa?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:11pm
  • AO: Foster focuses on the negotiations over intellectual property of the hoodia plant and studies and problematizes patent law and its dichotomous assumptions of nature/culture, modern/nonmodern, and Western/indigenous.

  • AO: Foster uses indigeneity as one category of subjects studied (San peoples), and occupation for the other two categories of subjects studied (CSIR scientists and hoodia growers). She notes that San are by no means a homogenous or unified group and have their own internal debates about who should represent them and how their interests should be represented (20).

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META: What discourses does the analyst consider/leverage to characterize/theorize science and technology in Africa?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:11pm
  • AO: Foster puts forward a “feminist decolonial technoscience approach” to understanding how the “intersectional politics of gender, race, indigeneity and their colonial histories related to contestations over Hoodia” (7). Foster noted that San peoples, CSIR scientists and hoodia growers made unequal claims for belonging through attachments to differentially valued materialities of the same plant.

  • AO: Foster builds on critical science studies and socio-legal scholarship but notes that indigenous peoples’ theorizing of science and patent ownership as connected to colonial histories provides a critical perspective that is more useful for the book (8).

  • AO: Foster is interested in attending to scale by looking at one plant and its different modalities of scale (in comparison to Osseo-Asare who looks at several different indigenous plants).

  • AO: She notes an intent to destabilize binaries (by focusing on multiple scales beyond just the nation-state) but also uses the terms “Global South” and “Global North” without describing or problematizing them (15).

  • AO: Foster focuses on concepts of patentability, materiality, and belonging (rather than epistemic citizenship) to pay attention to how San peoples, CSIR scientists and hoodia growers were making claims to materialities and ways of knowing Hoodia.

  • AO: Foster notes the importance of naming and highlights why she uses capital I for “Indigenous” (to note the name of specific groups).

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MACRO: (How) are economic and legal infrastructures said to shape science and technology in Africa?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:10pm
  • AO: Foster looks at how forces like the law and science construct the very matter of plants. She is interested in the materialities of patent law rules, contractual provisions and legal forms and how they mobilize networks of scientists, indigenous peoples, Hoodia growers and plants in unequal ways.

  • AO: She notes history of apartheid, colonial history, economic decisions to close pharmaceutical research groups, FDA approvals, as shaping the development of Hoodia.

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DEUTERO: How is this analyst denoting and worrying about “Africa”?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:09pm

AO: Given her positioning of a feminist decolonial technoscience approach as central to her book, Foster is worrying over the decolonizing of production and ownership of scientific knowledge. She notes: “The mere recognition or inclusion of indigenous knowledge will not be sufficient to unsettle those relations in today’s market-based hierarchies that differentially value certain ways of knowing and being over others nor is a truly just and prosperous nonracial future likely to be forged within scientific and legal practices that remain tied more to market than to social justice principles.” (130)

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DISCURSIVE RISKS: What are the analyst’s epistemic assumptions of “Africa”?

Friday, August 17, 2018 - 3:08pm

AO: Foster’s analysis is strong at the eco, macro, and nano scales (see her outline and arguments on page 11). She is particularly strong at revealing how the unpredictability of the hoodia plant complicated different claims for knowing and cultivating it (e.g. difficulty of growing it by cultivators, the fact that it did not actually reduce weight as it was originally thought to for commercial prospects, etc.) She also focuses on questions of belonging, looking at growers, scientists, and San peoples negotiations over hoodia and how these are structured by inequality. For example, subjects can be both empowered and disempowered (where scientists acknowledge Hoodia plants and San peoples on their websites but continue to present them as mere sources of raw materials) (101). Foster also dedicates more time than most reflecting on her own research practices and ethical responsibilities.

Lesley Green's concept of “relational ontology” (2012: 6) points out a discursive risk in Foster's work, namely a reliance on stable occupational and identity categories to describe human actors (the categories of "San peoples," "Hoodia growers," and "CSIR researchers" appear to hold stable throughout).

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DATA: (How) does the analyst account for their own data practices and responsibilities?

Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 7:09pm
  • AO: In her introduction, Foster includes notes on Methods and Terminology where she acknowledges the historic construction of Native peoples within academic scholarship as “knowable subjects.” To mitigate this, she notes that her book is based on an ethnographic study of both San peoples and Hoodia so as not to understand San struggles in isolation but in relation to scientists and growers. She notes: “I engaged in feminist methodologies of self-reflexivity about my methods and practices, methodologies that are intended to disrupt hierarchies between researcher and researched but that, as Andrea Smith cautions, can nonetheless reinforce structures of domination by positioning the researcher as self-reflexive white settler against those being researched as complaining ethnic subjects.” (17)

  • AO: Laura Foster (2017) is one of the few scholars within the annotated set that explicitly grappled for several pages with the double bind with which she found herself as a white female researcher from the US. She outlines conversations she had with Collin Louw who started out by asking: "Who are you? What do you want? You researchers, always coming around here, asking qeustions, talking to people and nothing happens." (19). She notes how she signed a Media and Research Contract that formalized expectations for researchers and required her to continually "commmunicate her research, stay in touch and share benefits with San peoples in the form of research materials, and a percentage of any royalties she might receive in the future." (20)

  • AO: Foster notes in her endnotes the sources of her statements, citing specific patent numbers, works, as well as interviews. Interestingly, she notes: (on file with author) to describe the interview data, seeming to suggest that one could inquire for the data if so desired? E.g. endnote 35 on page 167 - “Tommy Busakhwe, in discusssion with author in South Africa, March 3, 2009 (on file with author). She also prints the full text of speeches that she includes, see for example endnote 30 on page 159.

  • AO: Foster includes both community protocols and research guidelines for working with indigenous preoples and another that offers key strategies for indigenous peoples who may want to challenge a US patent in court.

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