Africa at Noon–November 2, 2011–Carol Heimer

Fall 2011 Africa at Noon Events

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Global Governance on a Sub-Saharan Stage: Persistent Inequalities in Pluralistic Systems

Carol Heimer
Professor, Department of Sociology
Northwestern University and American Bar Foundation

Time and Location: 12:00pm, 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

Download Poster (pdf)

Drawing on ethnographic research in Uganda and South Africa (as well as Thailand and the US), this paper argues that apparently neutral standards established by international bodies to govern HIV/AIDS treatment and research are in fact the standards of rich countries and so disadvantage poor countries. They do this in two ways. First, these standards are difficult for poor country organizations to comply with because they require considerable infrastructure that simply is not present in those countries. Second, they disadvantage poor countries by casting a pall over those who cannot comply. Noncompliance is never neutral – rather than being read as an indicator of poverty, it may instead be read as an indicator of incompetence, ineptitude, or even fraud.

Speaker’s Bio:
Carol Heimer is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University and Research
Professor at the American Bar Foundation. Heimer has written on risk and insurance, organization theory, the sociology of law, and the sociology of medicine. Her book (For the Sake of the Children (co-authored with Staffen) was winner of both the theory and medical sociology section prizes of the American Sociological Association. Currently she is especially interested in the encounters between different normative and regulatory systems and the standards and rules they promulgate. The book she is now writing is tentatively titled The Legal Transformation of Medicine: How Rules Work in the International World of HIV/AID and is grounded in ethnographic work and interviews in HIV clinics in the US, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand. Her most recent publications includes “Extending the Rails: How Research Reshapes Clinics” (Social Studies of Science, with JuLeigh Petty), “Bureaucratic Ethics: IRBs and the Legal Regulation of Human Subjects Research (Annual Review of Law and Social Science, co-authored with JuLeigh Petty), and “Old Inequalities, New Disease: HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa” (Annual Review of Sociology). Heimer is co-editor of Regulation & Governance.

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