“Graboyes’ arguments are critical for contemporary researchers who must understand how the ‘residue’ of each experiment alters the course of the next. … [Her] book, which does not presume knowledge of the history and ethnography of medical research in Africa, is written in engaging and jargon-free prose. …[It] is certain to prompt lively classroom discussions about global health, African medical research in colonial and postcolonial times, and the history of medicine.”
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“This is a remarkable contribution—scrupulously researched, innovatively organized, engagingly written, and passionately argued. To my knowledge, there is nothing published that can match the scope, temporal depth, or ethnographic finesse of this work. The manuscript is a superb example of how rigorous historical research opens up reflections on the unresolved ethical problems of contemporary global health research.”
Tamara Giles-Vernick, Director of Research, Institut Pasteur
“Graboyes’s book reads like a mystery, elegantly weaving history, science, bioethics and public health into a compelling story. A profoundly important contribution to the challenges of conducting medical research in the developing world.”
Michael A. Grodin, M.D., professor of bioethics and human rights, Boston University School of Public Health
“Graboyes’ innovative approach pushes boundaries of conventional medical history, adds badly needed historical depth to ethnographies of medical research, and revitalizes bioethics thinking in an entertaining and accessible way. Her investigation of the ways medical research lingers in East Africa will contribute to historical and anthropological scholarship for years to come, and one hopes it will be read by ethicists and scientists as well.”
Paul Wenzel Geissler, professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo
The Experiment Must Continue is a beautifully articulated ethnographic history of medical experimentation in East Africa from 1940 through 2014. In it, Melissa Graboyes combines her training in public health and in history to treat her subject with the dual sensitivities of a medical ethicist and a fine historian. She breathes life into the fascinating histories of research on human subjects, elucidating the hopes of the interventionists and the experiences of the putative beneficiaries.
Historical case studies highlight failed attempts to eliminate tropical diseases, while modern examples delve into ongoing malaria and HIV/AIDS research. Collectively, these show how East Africans have perceived research differently than researchers do and that the active participation of subjects led to the creation of a hybrid ethical form.
By writing an ethnography of the past and a history of the present, Graboyes casts medical experimentation in a new light, and makes the resounding case that we must readjust our dominant ideas of consent, participation, and exploitation. With global implications, this lively book is as relevant for scholars as it is for anyone invested in the place of medicine in society.
Melissa Graboyes teaches at the University of Oregon. Her research concerns history, medicine, science, and ethics on the African continent. She received a PhD in history and a masters in public health from Boston University, and has worked for global health organizations in East Africa and the United States.
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