Second Book: Imperial Technoscience by Amit Prasad

Updated: May 12, 2018


For Amit Prasad, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) doesn’t simply visualise soft tissue but also the complex structure, and slippery logic of the Medical-Industrial Complex. Through tracing the development of the machinery itself, Prasad allows us all to become intimately aware of the flows of money between clinics and corporations, the accruement of exceptionalism through investment in objects deemed high-tech, and the consistent solidification of Western ownership and control. Indeed, the book tells us of a commonplace narrative — a narrative where technology becomes the bartering chip for much more valuable assets: from access to economic markets, the privatisation of healthcare and its unequal distribution, to a monopoly over knowledge-production itself.

Through looking at Chapters 3 and 4 of Imperial Technoscience, the reading group will examine the very discursive-material constructions of MRI in the broader context of capitalist healthcare and so called ‘innovation’. We’ll attempt to critique the West versus non-West technocultural divide, recover peripheral histories and discuss alternate technological genealogies, as well as map out transnational hierarchies and exclusions. The entangled history of a seemingly simple, and these days standard, diagnostic tool will present to us a myriad of questions, including (but not limited to):

1. Does the industry–university/clinic collaboration model, proposed by Prasad, assist in our understanding of the manner in which the Medical-Industrial Complex functions?

2. How might regulatory strategies (aimed at controlling health-care costs) exist alongside public access to high-tech/high-cost devices and machines?

3. Does ‘reverse innovation’ counter Western tech imperialism/ownership, or merely hijack the idea of empowerment, whilst assuring low cost/outsourced labour?

4. How can the history of technical/scientific objects be reclaimed?

5. What would transformative/accessible community healthcare look like? How would machines, like MRIs, fit into these alternative models?


CH 3: deals with the transformation of the MRI into a "collective device" and its widespread influence. Also examines the entanglement of the history of the MRI with discourses around US exceptionalism, as well as the intense privatisation of healthcare in the States.

CH 4: examines how the history of modern science in the non-West has been effectively constituted as the 'other' of the history of science in the West; how that has led to an appended and dependent history. Through mapping out these lapses in acknowledgment, Prasad suggests strategies to recover these peripheral histories and transnational flows of knowledge construction.


If you would like to join us, please RSVP to sometime during the two weeks. The link above contains a PDF download for Chapters 3 & 4 (as well as the introduction for reference).

WHEN: Monday 28 May, 4-6pm.

LOCATION: RC Mills Building, Rm.148, the University of Sydney


© Compiled by Zsuzsanna Dominika Ihar for BoS

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