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The Cuban Cure

Reason and Resistance in Global Science

After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, his second declaration, after socialism, was that Cuba would become a leader in international science. In biotechnology he would be proven right and, today, Cuba counts a meningitis B vaccine and cutting-edge cancer therapies to its name. But how did this politically and geographically isolated country make such impressive advances? Drawing on a unique ethnography, and blending the insights of anthropology, sociology, and geography, The Cuban Cure shows how Cuba came to compete with U. S. pharmaceutical giants—despite a trade embargo and crippling national debt.

            In uncovering what is distinct about Cuban biomedical science, S. M. Reid-Henry examines the forms of resistance that biotechnology research in Cuba presents to the globalization of western models of scientific culture and practice. He illustrates the epistemic, social, and ideological clashes that take place when two cultures of research meet, and how such interactions develop as political and economic circumstances change. Through a novel argument about the intersection of socioeconomic systems and the nature of innovation, The Cuban Cure presents an illuminating study of politics and science in the context of globalization.


“[The Cuban Cure] reads like a political thriller for intellectuals.”

William Ventres | Journal of the American Medical Association

“[The Cuban Cure] will appeal to any student of the history and geography of science.”

J. A. Hewlett | Choice

“Reid-Henry provides a fascinating inquiry into the largely unexplored and important topic of Cuba’s emergence as a major player on the global biotechnological and larger medical research/services scene.”

H. Michael Erisman, Indiana State University | Journal of Latin American Studies

Table of Contents


One / A Biotechnology Story
Two / Imagining Science
Three/ Making Space for Science
Four / Science City
Five / Sticky History
Six / Strategic Marginality
Seven / Peripheral Assent
Eight / The Cuban Cure


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