Sydney Ideas lecture by Kaushik Sunder Rajan, University of Chicago

26 March, 2013

In early April 2010, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) halted a project that involved the experimental administration of Gardasil, a vaccine developed by Merck used to prevent human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, in Bhadrachalam, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The study was shut down because of apparent reports of violations of ethical guidelines. An immediate focal point of controversy was that Bhadrachalam is a predominantly tribal area, and questions were asked about conducting a study on tribal girls. This controversy developed into a full-blown controversy in its own right, but has also become the focal point of emergent civil society advocacy in India against unethical clinical trials.

Dr Sunder Rajan describes this controversy as an entry point into a broader consideration of the politics around pharmaceuticals and health in India today. How do these politics emerge in relation to global logics of biocapital? In what ways does public health get conscripted into, and changed in the process of, articulations with these global logics? What kinds of experimental subjectivity get produced as a consequence? Dr Sunder Rajan argues that what is at stake here is the re-theorization of knowledge, of value, and of the nature of their articulation, and the necessity of asking questions of the ethical and the political in the light of such re-theorizations.

Location: New Law School Foyer

Contact:Rodney Taveira
Phone: 61 2 9036 6381 (Tues/Wed/Fri)