Biotraffic: Medicines and Environmental Governance in the Afterlives of Apartheid (Hardcover)

Biotraffic: Medicines and Environmental Governance in the Afterlives of Apartheid By Christopher Morris Cover Image
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Biotraffic explores the complex world of biological resource trade. It takes readers inside the contemporary Ciskei region of South Africa, a once-notorious apartheid “homeland” turned extractive hub for wild medicinal plants. Drawing from in-depth ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, Christopher Morris examines the region’s trade in Pelargonium sidoides, a plant once contested as a tuberculosis treatment in early twentieth-century Europe and now an internationally marketed remedy for the common cold. The story of this trade links past and present, encapsulating a larger tale about colonial legacies and their intersection with global environmental governance ambitions. It also teems with a diverse cast of actors, from plant harvesters and pharmaceutical companies to activist NGOs and the chiefs who have become business partners with multinational drug firms. The book’s analysis extends beyond the mere extraction and commercialization of plant resources, offering a critical examination of how demand for therapeutics intertwines with broader struggles over land and political power in South Africa. In doing so, Biotraffic illuminates how a distance-defying trade is reshaping the sociopolitical landscape of a region—a region grappling with apartheid's afterlives and the challenges of environmental and economic justice.

About the Author

Christopher Morris is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780520404014
ISBN-10: 0520404017
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: October 15th, 2024
Pages: 302
Language: English