AO. strong macro analysis of the political history of "capacity"

  • AO: Citing Ferguson (2006) and Mbembe (2001), the authors note that Africa has been (re-)constituted since the 1980s as a landscape of lack, defined by absences and negativity (esp. to address ‘weaknesses’ in the public sector left (or made) by measures of ‘structural adjustment). This echoes ongoing discourse about the “lack” or deficit of good data in/on/from Africa.

  • AO: The authors note the erosion of public infrastructures – and the proliferation of non- governmental and private initiatives in the absence of state care and science – that drove a wedge between health and citizens’ rights, public welfare and collective visions of civic progress (Loewenson 1993; Price 1988; Prince and Marsland 2013; Riddell 1992). (351).

  • AO: Authors note that transnational collaboration in health research and quasi-experimental interventions have emerged as the dominant mode of health capacity building in Africa. The ‘scramble for Africa’ as a site of transnational health research and intervention has also been predicated on the lasting lack of African capacity to investigate and treat HIV (Crane 2013; Gilbert 2013).

  • AO: the authors argue that the development of “humanitarian technologies” anticipate the absence of state infrastructure and minimize the need for greater public commitments (e.g. Redfield 2008, 2012, 2015). ‘Community participation’ or ‘empowerment’ – common references in the capacity-building discourse – likewise seek to make health research and care function efficiently and ethically with minimal investment in infrastructure (353).

  • AO: The authors look at “global” and “local” standards of science while Okeke argues that the two cannot be disentangled: “While Droney and Wendland show that supposedly ‘global’ standards of good science and care may not fully capture the capacities most relevant to African health practices and outcomes (albeit in ways that invite reflection on how to define capacity everywhere), Iruka Okeke’s paper argues that African and global bio-scientific capacity are tightly imbricated.”


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