Re-Inventing Hoodia: Patentability, Materiality, and the Making of Belonging in South Africa

Thursday, 10 March, 2016 - 12:30

WiSER Medical Humanities invites you to a seminar by

Laura Foster

Re-Inventing Hoodia: Patentability, Materiality, and the Making of Belonging in South Africa

Based on a decade of ethnographic work related to the Hoodia plant, this talk examines how Indigenous San peoples, South African scientists, and Hoodia growers make unequal claims for belonging through patents and benefit sharing by asserting attachment to different modalities of the same Hoodia gordonii plant as either a plant from nature, a molecule, or as cultivated. Attending to these human and nonhuman relations, Re-inventing Hoodia interrogates how the plant interrupts the peoples, laws, sciences, and markets that seek to contain it. In the end, it argues that contestations over patent ownership and claims to particular modalities of the nonhuman present an emerging site of struggle over who does and does not belong. 

Wednesday, 9th March  

WiSER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University

Dr Laura Foster is a Senior Research Associate for the Intellectual Property Unit at University of Cape Town Faculty of Law. She is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Affiliate Faculty with the Mauer School of Law & Department of African Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research broadly focuses on the co-constituted relationships of law and science, and how such interactions historically structure and reinforce certain bodies, identities, knowledges, and practices over others. She draws upon her expertise in science and technology studies, feminist and critical race legal theory, transnational/post-colonial feminisms, feminist research methodologies, and intellectual property law as well as her legal practice experience in both human rights and corporate law in the US and in Southern Africa.

All welcome.

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