My research focuses on the anthropology of the biochemical sciences, global pharmaceutical politics, and postcolonial engagements with intellectual property and the politics of innovation and appropriation. These themes animated my 2003 book, When Nature Goes Public: The Making and Unmaking of Bioprospecting in Mexico, which examined the consequences of novel drug discovery partnerships linking global drug companies, Latin American research scientists, and indigenous communities. A key theme emerging from that work was how new deployments of the idioms of intellectual property serve as engines of both privatization and ‘public-ization,’ or the reconfiguration of notions of the public, the commons, and the public domain.
Subsequent projects have taken up this concern, in the context of the ethics of benefit-sharing in clinical trials (Taking as Giving), the ways that liberal concerns over piracy and improper copying continue to animate liberatory projects undertaken in the name of the public domain (The Proper Copy), and an investigation of how appeals to the ‘popular’ and populism may disrupt liberal epistemologies organized around public and private.
My current research is an ethnographic investigation of the recent emergence of generic drugs in Mexico, and the complex relationships– simultaneously biochemical, commercial, and political – currently unfolding in their name. Grounding my concern with a politics of access to medicines here is an interest in using the complex materialities of generic drugs to rethink the ‘substance’ of pharmaceutical politics and our analytics of value, sameness, and difference.
Co-Director with Professor Thomas Laqueur, Undergraduate Course Thread in The Sciences and Society (Townsend Humanities Lab)
Member, Laboratorio del Procomún (Commons Laboratory) Mexico City
Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, University of California-Santa Cruz, 2000
M.A. in Cultural Anthropology, University of California-Santa Cruz, 1994
B.A. in Anthropology and Women's Studies, University of Virginia, 1992
Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford CA, 2008-2009
Research Fellowship in Social Anthropology, Girton College, University of Cambridge (UK) 2001-2004
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2000-2001
2011 “No patent, no generic: Pharmaceutical Access and the Politics of the Copy” in Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, ed Biagioli, Jaszi, and Woodmansee. University of Chicago press, pp. 285-304. (Also published in Portuguese as, Sem patente não há genérico: acesso farmaceutico e políticas de cópia." Sociologias (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil). 19 (Jan/Jun): 62-90).
2010. “The proper copy: the insides and outsides of domains made public”, The Journal of Cultural Economy 3 (1): 85-102
2007. “A generic solution? Pharmaceuticals and the politics of the similar in Mexico,” Major article with commentary, Current Anthropology 48 (4): 475-495
2007. “Taking as giving: Bioscience, exchange, and the rise of an ethic of benefit-sharing,” Social Studies of Science (5): 729–75
2005. “Bioprospecting’s representational dilemma,” Science as Culture, Special Issue on Postcolonial Science Studies, edited by Maureen McNeil. 14 (2): 185-200.
2004. "Prospecting's Publics." In Katherine Verdery and Caroline Humphrey, eds. Property in Question: Value Transformation in the Global Economy, pp. 115-138. Oxford and New York: Berg Press.
2003. “From market to market: Bioprospecting’s idioms of inclusion.” American Ethnologist 30 (3):359-371.
2003. “Suspended animation: A brine shrimp essay.” In Margaret Lock and Sarah Franklin, eds., Animation and Cessation: The Anthropology of Life and Death. Santa Fe: School of American Research.
1995. "Gender, Genetics, and Generation: Reformulating Biology in Lesbian Kinship," Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 10, No. 1 (February):41-63.