Kaushik Sunder Rajan / Emilia Sanabria
›On the question of value in biomedicine‹ / ›Fluid Drugs, Plastic Bodies‹

  • Sat 13.07.19 16 h – 17:30 h

Free admission

Emilia Sanabria

›Fluid Drugs, Plastic Bodies‹

The molecules from which drugs and pharmaceuticals are made are not discovered but rather made and remade. As fluid substances, they are constantly evolving and adapting to their sur­roundings. These fluid substances are extracted, isolated and modified by researchers in laboratories. Yet they do not achieve their intended effects in controlled laboratory settings but rather within living bodies, before eventually leaching out into the environment. Emilia Sanabria’s talk proposes that
it is necessary to think pharmaceutical consumptions alongside these ecolo­gical flows of pharmaceutical matter through human and animal bodies that do not end with the skin surface. Pharmaceuticals leak into the world. The intestines, the lungs, the skin and the metabolic system act as zones of ex­change between the body and its envi­ronment, which is subject to regulatory, post-­colonial and chemical influences. In her lecture, Sanabria illustrates with this particular reference to hormones as objects of exchange and knowledge in sexual and reproductive health practices in Brazil and global concerns around endocrine disruption.


Kaushik Sunder Rajan
›On the question of value in biomedicine‹

How is the term value defined in the field of biotechnology? Kaushik Sunder Rajan is Professor of Anthropology and Deputy Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. His current research covers the global interdepend­encies and changes in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, which he describes by the term ›bio­-capital‹. He offers a conceptual interpretation of the meaning of value and argues from the standpoint of an empirical assess­ment of the life sciences and biomedi­cine, which have adapted themselves progressively to capitalist and entrepre­neurial production methods since the late 20th century. Building on this thesis, he presents a new conceptualization of the concept of value, drawing on Marx’s concept of the »value-­form« as constitutive for the dynamics of capital. Thus, he simultaneously reflects upon value in biocapital, and upon methods for its analysis. Sunder Rajan argues that a political approach to capital (and biocapital) must cope continuously with the problems that result from the merg­ings, contradictions and antinomies that emerge from the polysemous nature of value.

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