AO. capacity in the pursuit of ‘good’ science and care

  • AO: Writing about the six pieces in the special volume, the authors talk about re-politicize capacity in Africa to recognize capacity as a form of power to act on the world and produce effects, that emerges from, is contested within, and acts on social, institutional and material processes as they unfold within specific locations and histories in a world of unequal life chances, resources and opportunity. They talk about how the authors “relocate capacity in the pursuit of ‘good’ science and care, defined not just as technological efficacy, but also in terms of personal and collective duty, service, pleasure, success, sovereignty, autonomy, membership and progress.” (350)

  • AO: Geissler and Tousignant ask: “what kinds of tensions arise in and between the making of good institutions, good collaborators, good careers, good science and good health? How do these different goals converge, and what successes, satisfactions, problems, dilemmas and disputes arise?” (351)

  • AO: The authors argue that to gain capacity, African scientists and clinicians often seek to become ‘collaborators’ at the expense of autonomy in setting and pursuing priorities of knowledge and care (they cite Droney 2017; Waast and Krishna 2003).

  • AO: Citing Mika’s study, the authors note a performance of partial capacity – such as doing meticulous ward rounds when chemotherapy stocks are exhausted – is, like improvised capacity, an ambivalent good.

    • “On the one hand, it appears as illusory capacity, an ‘empty’ performance that does not lead to health improvement. On the other hand, ‘performing’ as a good nurse, doctor, scientist or institution may not only attract future capacity building investment (Fullwiley 2011; Moyi Okwaro and Geissler 2015), it is also a source of value in itself as an enactment of service, professionalism and action (e.g. Livingston 2012; Tousignant 2013b) constitutive of subjec- tivity and hence precondition for medical, or political, action.” (355)


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