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The Anthropology Departmental Seminar

The Spectacular Generic: Access politics as Simipolitics. Talk by Cori Hayden, University of California Berkeley

2019.06.26 | Mia Korsbæk

Date Wed 11 Sep
Time 13:00 15:30
Location Foredragssalen Moesgård, 4206/139


For what, exactly, are generic medicines substitutes?  When generic drugs were introduced as a novel commercial option in Mexico in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one notable private sector protagonist – the famous “Dr. Simi” --  promoted generics as a tool for fighting the economic inaccessibility and the ideological power of foreign, brand-name drugs. Enjoining potential consumers to “Defend your domestic economy!”  the Simi enterprise — a massive force in the commercial and political sphere —  invoked a national(ist) politics and defense of pharmaceutical sovereignty, built around the figure of the domestic substitute or the domestic copy. But Simi’s endeavors, and the configuration of Mexico’s generics market more broadly, quickly raised the possibility of another locus, form, and politics of generic substitution.  The commercial-circulatory apparatus emerging around generics now sits in direct contrast to what many constituents/consumers experience as the “failures” or lacks in Mexico’s venerable public health insurance programs.  The commerce in generics has, in many respects and particularly in Simi's aesthetics, claims, and political incursions, come to substitute for “the state."  Yet, far from delivering us to a generic critique of neoliberalism, I want to use the contours of this "Simipolitics" to explore how state and market are themselves being recomposed.




Cori Hayden is a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she conducts research and teaches on the anthropology of science, technology and medicine, with an emphasis in Latin America.  She recently served as the Chair of the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley and was the Director of the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society from 2010-2013.  Hayden received her PhD in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2000 and has held fellowships at the Center for US-Mexican Studies in San Diego, the University of Cambridge, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) in Palo Alto.  Hayden is the author of the award-winning book When Nature Goes Public (Princeton University Press, 2003), and is currently finishing a book entitled The Spectacular Generic, which analyzes the contours of a 21st century politics of the pharmaceutical copy.  She is also co-convenor of Cloud and Crowd, a UC Humanities Network-funded initiative on contemporary market formations, political atmospheres, aesthetic possibilities, and modes of inquiry. 

Seminar, Antropologi