Launch: 'Reinventing Hoodia' by Laura A Foster (May 13)

Join Laura Foster, Sinethemba Makanya, Richard Rottenburg and Jonathan Klaaren in conversation at Wits University for the launch of 'Reinventing Hoodia'

10 May 2019 - 14:03
'Reinventing Hoodia: Peoples, Plants and Patents in South Africa' is being launched in Johannesburg on May 13.
'Reinventing Hoodia: Peoples, Plants and Patents in South Africa' is being launched in Johannesburg on May 13.
Image: Wits University Press

Native to the Kalahari Desert, Hoodia gordonii is a succulent plant known by generations of indigenous San peoples to have a variety of uses: to reduce hunger, increase energy, and ease breastfeeding. 

In the global North, it is known as a natural appetite suppressant, a former star of the booming diet industry.

In Reinventing Hoodia, Laura Foster explores how the plant was reinvented through patent ownership, pharmaceutical research, the self-determination efforts of indigenous San peoples, contractual benefit sharing, commercial development as a herbal supplement, and bioprospecting legislation.

Using a feminist decolonial technoscience approach, Foster argues that although patent law is inherently racialised, gendered, and Western, it offered opportunities for indigenous San peoples, South African scientists, and Hoodia growers to make claims for belonging within the shifting politics of South Africa.

This radical interdisciplinary and intersectional account of the multiple materialities of Hoodia illuminates the connections between law, science, and the marketplace, while demonstrating how these domains value certain forms of knowledge and matter differently.

Laura A. Foster is an Associate Professor of gender studies at Indiana University-Bloomington with affiliations in African studies and the Maurer School of Law. She is also a senior researcher with the Intellectual Property Unit at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law.

“Foster’s fascinating account of complex negotiations between the indigenous San peoples, South African scientists, lawyers, and Big Pharma makes a valuable text for classes in law, the history, philosophy, and social studies of science, women’s studies, and anti-colonial studies. It also expands the horizon of fruitful research projects in these fields.” — Sandra Harding, author of Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research

EVENT DETAILS

Date: Monday, 13 May (4:30 PM for 5 PM)

Venue: WiSER Seminar room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building, East Campus, Wits University

Guest speakers: Sinethemba Makanya, Richard Rottenburg and Jonathan Klaaren

RSVP: info.witspress@wits.ac.za

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