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Palgrave Macmillan

Global Morality and Life Science Practices in Asia

Assemblages of Life

ISBN 9780230274839
Publication Date April 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Health, Technology and Society

This book explores the concept of life assemblages, drawing attention to the diverging ways in which societies share questions of what is a life worth living. In accordance with the urgency, gist and expression of such questions, societies deal with the regulation of new developments and practices in life science research and mobilise available political mechanisms to deliberate them.

Seventeen empirical case studies debate themes ranging from population planning, reproductive decision-making, genetic testing and genomics to human embryonic stem cell research and experimental stem cell therapies in Asian countries. The debates outlined also shed light on theoretical conceptualisations of eugenics, biopower, risk signatures, population studies, public deliberation, reproductive choice, bioethics, bionetworking, international science collaboration, public deliberation, research objects and scientific development in countries of different levels of wealth.

Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sussex, UK.

1. Introduction: From Global Moral Economy to Assemblages of Life
2. Reassembling Populations: Questions of Eugenics in China, India and Japan
3. Biopower and Life Assemblages: Genetic Carrier Testing in India, China and Japan
4. Human Genetic Biobanking and Life Assemblages in Asia: Transnational Moral Economies of Health, Progress and Exploitation
5. Life Assemblages of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in China and Japan: Bioethical Problematisations and Bioethical Boundary Making
6. Scientists and Publics in East Asian Life Assemblages: Risk, Debate and the Professionalization of Bioethics
7. Life Assemblages and Bionetworking: Developments in Experimental Stem Cell Therapies in India and Japan
8. Reframing the Global Moral Economy of Biotech in Asia: Life Assemblages and Research Objects


"Universalistic claims about the politics of life are challenged by this ambitious book on actual life science practices in Asia.
Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner, sometimes with Asian co-authors, has gathered together case studies on the practice of human population genomics, reproductive medicine, stem cells research in the region. Drawing on ethnographic study of labs and clinics in Japan, China, S. Korea, and India, the book presents each case study as shaped by a particular "life assemblage" of technological, moral, and political forces in the country. Asian scientists, the book argues, are designing new experiments in the midst of conflicting moral and economic goals of science development, thus forming "local" conditions of life governance.
This volume is an ideal textbook that expands our understanding of how Asian sites have become global players in configuring the ethics and the politics of the life sciences today." - Aihwa Ong, Professor of Socio-cultural Anthropology, Berkeley University, US.
"In this book Sleeboom-Faulkner brings together her extensive field experience in China, India and Japan with a comprehensive overview of recent theoretical approaches to the growth of biotechnology and bioethics. The result is an illuminating account of local engagement with novel, life-changing technologies in contexts and constituencies very different from those found in the West. Around 17 well-argued case studies, an argument is developed about the ways in which bioethical capacity is being built in step with biotechnological developments across Asia. Through a careful analysis of the many voices that the ethics of the life sciences bring into play, the book focuses attention on contests and controversies over authority that arise in different economic, political and cultural settings, and how these determine what constitutes a 'life worth living'. This analysis succeeds in exposing the fine grain that lies beneath the universal rhetoric of science, technology and bioethics, and is something of a landmark in this important and burgeoning field." Bob Simpson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Durham, UK.
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