Gabrielle Robbins

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts Inst. of Technology

Grant number

Gr. 10026

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Robbins, Gabrielle (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology) "Artemisia’s Industry: Between Farm and Factory in the Making of African Pharmaceuticals"

GABRIELLE ROBBINS, then a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in August 2020 to aid research on “Artemisia’s Industry: Between Farm and Factory in the Making of African Pharmaceuticals,” supervised by Dr. Christine Walley. Retitled ‘Artemisia’s Industry: #MadeInMadagascar Pharmaceuticals Between Farm and Factory,’ this project uses multi-methods ethnographic research to understand how plant-based drugs became pivotal to Madagascar’s pandemic response. It examines how Artemisia annua, a medicinal herb, was previously grown on the island as raw materials for antimalarial drug ingredients; how artemisia became a pandemic-era therapeutic resource of global interest; and how its cultivation and processing were mobilized for nationalist crisis response that rejected dependence on Euro-American Big Pharma. Contra analytical emphases on ‘global pharmaceuticals,’ attention here focuses on local, regional, and national ‘farm pharma’ projects fueling new kinds of medical protectionism. Integrating remote and in-person research across Madagascar, Europe, and the U.S., this project contributes novel methodological tools for the anthropology of medicine/pharmaceuticals at the same time as it interrogates how Covid-19 potently reworked operant geographies of medical manufacture and distribution.