Emilie CloatreFeb 9, 2015
Pills for the Poorest
An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa
Palgrave Macmillan 2013
Emilie Cloatre's award-winning book, Pills for the Poorest:An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa (Palgrave, 2013), locates the effects--and ineffectualness--of a landmark international agreement for healthcare: the World Trade Organization's "Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights." Cloatre takes seriously the idea of TRIPS as a technology in Bruno Latour's meaning of the word--as a material object that anticipates effects in specific settings. Cloatre follows the text from its consolidation in European meeting halls to its use in the former French and British colonies of Ghana and Djibouti. Pills for the Poorest is a significant ethnography of law and healthcare in Africa that shows precisely how this paper tool begat new buildings, relationships, experts, and, indeed, pills, but only in particular places, among certain people, and for particular kinds of pharmaceuticals. Cloatre is a broadly trained scholar and talented researcher who shows the power of Actor Network Theory as an analytic device, and yet does so with a spirit of critique in the best sense: that is, as an act of sympathetic, yet persistent, questioning. As a text itself, the book has potential to reshape the thinking of readers from a wide range of fields, from law, science studies, healthcare policy, and beyond.