The pharmaceuticalisation of security: molecular biomedicine, antiviral stockpiles, and global health security

Elbe, Stefan (2014) The pharmaceuticalisation of security: molecular biomedicine, antiviral stockpiles, and global health security. Review of International Studies, 40 (5). pp. 919-938. ISSN 0260-2105

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Abstract

Pharmaceuticals are now critical to the security of populations. Antivirals, antibiotics, next-generation vaccines, and antitoxins are just some of the new ‘medical countermeasures’ that governments are stockpiling in order to defend their populations against the threat of pandemics and bioterrorism. How has security policy come to be so deeply imbricated with pharmaceutical logics and solutions? This article captures, maps, and analyses the ‘pharmaceuticalisation’ of security. Through an in-depth analysis of the prominent antiviral medication Tamiflu, it shows that this pharmaceutical turn in security policy is intimately bound up with the rise of a molecular vision of life promulgated by the biomedical sciences. Caught in the crosshairs of powerful commercial, political, and regulatory pressures, governments are embracing a molecular biomedicine promising to secure populations pharmaceutically in the twenty-first century. If that is true, then the established disciplinary view of health as a predominantly secondary matter of ‘low’ international politics is mistaken. On the contrary, the social forces of health and biomedicine are powerful enough to influence the core practices of international politics – even those of security. For a discipline long accustomed to studying macro-level processes and systemic structures, it is in the end also our knowledge of the minute morass of molecules that shapes international relations.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: Stefan Elbe
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2015 15:38
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 18:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/52162

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