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American Ethnologist

Commentary: Eyes wide shut in transnational science and aid

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ABSTRACT

Responding to the problem of unknowing in the contemporary pursuit of knowledge, my commentary on Wenzel Geissler's article extends its themes to a parallel, overlapping domain of humanitarianism. The provision of medical aid shares the preference of research trials for an egalitarian style and similarly avoids recognizing the very inequities that structure its relations. The humanitarian embrace of exception and moral discourse likewise parallels the manner in which research partnerships elide obligation, emphasizing responsibility in terms of ethical regulation. When actors share a stake in not knowing, it complicates the critical task, requiring something other than simple unveiling.

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