Imagining ‘Atlanta’: The Cultural Politics and Poetics of Experimental Medicine in East Africa

Denielle Elliott


Abstract

In East Africa there is a field research station that locals call ‘Atlanta.’ It sits on the outskirts of a rural town, near Lake Victoria, equipped with ‘state-of-the-art’ biotechnological and entomological equipment for monitoring and exploring malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, rotavirus, and other tropical diseases. Drawn from ethnographic fieldwork with clinical trials in East Africa, this paper considers the stories people tell about the landscapes and spaces of experimental medicine to explore the uneven movement of knowledge, scientific practices, and scientists in global medicine. I begin this analytical journey at ‘Atlanta’ to consider what local idioms about such places might tell us about the encounters and travels of science and scientists in East Africa. Last, I draw attention to the social and material effects of global science projects on the lives and landscapes of East Africa.

Keywords

experimental ethnography, global medicine, Kenya, spatiality, postcolonialism

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