What's at stake in the fake?

Indian pharmaceuticals, African markets and global health

Dr Edmore Chitukutuku | People at Fake Drugs Project

Dr Edmore Chitukutuku

Research Associate
Sol Plaatje University

I am an anthropologist of the state working on state sponsored violence and control in Africa. My research topic is on policing the fake: regulation, xenophobia and the rise of ‘fake-talk’ in South Africa. This is important to study because the rise of xenophobia enhanced ‘fake-talk’ around foreign goods and people in South Africa. The way in which anti-counterfeit regulations reformat ‘fake-talk’ is visible in xenophobic sentiments around S.A where fakeness goes beyond describing goods to describing and defining foreigners. I achieve this by looking at the history and ethnography of policing speaking to regulators, retailers, consumers and organizations in Johannesburg, South Africa. Engaging historically and ethnographically with the language around fakeness in the context of xenophobia enables this research to explore the persistence of ‘fake-talk’ and giving an understanding of ‘who speaks fake-talk?’ and ‘what do they say?’

This research takes place mostly in Johannesburg, South Africa. Johannesburg is important because of the recent (2019) xenophobic violence and the raids on foreign nationals trading in ‘counterfeit’ goods by the metropolitan and national police. This raised interesting questions not only about ‘fake-talk’, or what constitutes counterfeit goods but about policing strategies and how they both enhance and feed into ‘fake-talk’.

Email: Edmore.Chitukutuku@spu.ac.za