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Sun God Pharma: Bolivian Pharmaceuticals and Symbolic Power

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Author(s): Kate McGurn Centellas

Journal: Eä : Revista de Humanidades Médicas & Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología
ISSN 1852-4680

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: pharmaceutical | nationalism | ethnography | STS

ABSTRACT
This article examines the category of “pharmaceutical” in Bolivia. Based on ethnographic research and content analysis of national and multinational pharmaceutical companies’ websites and advertisements in Bolivian scientific journals from 2000 to the present, I argue that the alignment of local practices, understanding, and circulation of such products challenges global or hegemonic assumptions about what pharmaceuticals do, how they are produced, and how they act in specific socio-cultural contexts. In doing so, this helps us conceptualize what a pharmaceutical is. I also argue that the production of knowledge about pharmaceuticals has neglected, like many science and technology studies (STS) works published in English, the powerful local challenges that emerge in specific regional or national contexts. Throughout the article, I argue that there is a particularly nationalist orientation in Bolivia toward pharmaceutical manufacture and consumption, which we must understand via ethnography.
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