Kaushik Sunder Rajan (University of Chicago)

Sunder Rajan was initially trained as a biologist, obtained his PhD in the History and Social Studies of Science and Technology, and works on the anthropology of science, technology and medicine. His work has focused on a number of interrelated events and emergences: firstly, the increased corporatization of life science research; secondly, the emergence of new technologies and epistemologies within the life sciences, such as, significantly, genomics; and thirdly, the fact that these technoscientific and market emergences were not simply occurring in the United States, but rather globally. His book, Biocapital: The Constitution of Post-Genomic Life, tries to capture a flavor of these emergences. On the one hand, it is a multi-sited ethnography of emergent genomic research and drug development marketplaces in the United States and India. On the other hand, it traces the historical emergence of what he calls biocapital in the late 20th century, which asks questions of the nature and manner of the co-production of economic and epistemic value in the life sciences today. In the former register, Sunder Rajan's work has followed a number of actors--scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and policy makers--involved in genomics research and market development in a range of sites in the US and India (in the US, primarily in the Bay Area; in India, primarily in Delhi, Bombay and Hyderabad). In the latter register, his work engages social theories of epistemology, political economy, ethics, subjectivity, language and value (most directly the analysis of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida), in order to provide ways to think about a current moment in world history that is significantly shaped by techno-scientific capitalism.

Sunder Rajan is currently researching two distinct though inter-related new projects. One focuses on the political economy of pharmaceutical development in India in the context of changes in global capital flows and governance regimes. The second project focuses on the changing nature of the research university in India in the life sciences. The focal point here is the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), a new biomedical research institute being set up as a collaboration between the Government of India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Division of Health, Science and Technology (HST) at MIT.