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  • Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life

    Author(s):
    Pages: 312
    Illustrations: 10 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $94.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-6249-4
  • Paperback: $25.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-6264-7
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  • Prologue: Enigmatic Variations  ix

    Acknowledgments  xxiii

    Introduction: Inventing a City of Life  1

    Part I. Risks

    1. Where the Wild Genes Are  29

    2. An Atlas of Asian Diseases  51

    3. Smoldering Fire  73

    Part II. Uncertainties

    4. The Productive Uncertainty of Bioethics  93

    5. Virtue and Expatriate Scientists  113

    6. Perturbing Life  136

    Part III. Known Unknowns

    7. A Single Wave  157

    8. "Viruses Don't Carry Passports"  174

    9. The "Athlete Gene" in China's Future  197

    Epilogue: A DNA Bridge and an Octopus's Garden  223

    Notes  239

    Bibliography  257

    Index  271
  • "Anyone interested in cosmopolitan flows of knowledge and risk will find this book of value, as the phenomena that it describes and the methodologies that Ong uses seem to me to be readily transferable. .  . .  I particularly enjoy the way Ong fits the situated nature of her own authorship, including her Asian background, her family history of cancer and so on, seamlessly into her account. . . . [A] beautiful and engaging piece of writing and an important contribution to a wide spectrum of knowledge."
     

    "Embracing a new frontier, Ong’s latest work tackles our fear of the unknown in genomic research, concerns about multiple levels of research ethics, and our curiosity about genomic research’s implications for Chinese and Asian identity, which in turn has implications for human identity as a whole. This book on biomedical research is suitable for graduate students and scholars interested in the production of knowledge, science and technology studies, medical anthropology and sociology, ethnic studies, public health, and broadly Asian Studies."
     

    Reviews

  • "Anyone interested in cosmopolitan flows of knowledge and risk will find this book of value, as the phenomena that it describes and the methodologies that Ong uses seem to me to be readily transferable. .  . .  I particularly enjoy the way Ong fits the situated nature of her own authorship, including her Asian background, her family history of cancer and so on, seamlessly into her account. . . . [A] beautiful and engaging piece of writing and an important contribution to a wide spectrum of knowledge."
     

    "Embracing a new frontier, Ong’s latest work tackles our fear of the unknown in genomic research, concerns about multiple levels of research ethics, and our curiosity about genomic research’s implications for Chinese and Asian identity, which in turn has implications for human identity as a whole. This book on biomedical research is suitable for graduate students and scholars interested in the production of knowledge, science and technology studies, medical anthropology and sociology, ethnic studies, public health, and broadly Asian Studies."
     

  • "Taking up the question of how scientific knowledge is governed at a global scale, Aihwa Ong addresses the neglected yet critically important ways cutting-edge life sciences are 'translated' to non-European and non-U.S. sites. With an expansive theoretical horizon and broad conceptual goals, Fungible Life is of interest to scholars in medical anthropology, the anthropology of science and technology, science and technology studies, and those who study comparative modernities in contemporary Asia." — Andrew Lakoff, author of, Pharmaceutical Reason: Knowledge and Value in Global Psychiatry

    "A tour de force, Fungible Life grapples with emerging 'cosmopolitan science.' Aihwa Ong deftly reveals how researchers in Biopolis, a towering research center in Singapore, de-center the Euro-American view of the global in order to incorporate particularities of 'Asian' difference. Paradoxically, to become universal, cosmopolitan science must embrace the local. Ong’s trailblazing ethnography exposes local objectives 'coded' into Asian postgenomics that assist Biopolis in foreseeing the future, reducing population health risks, and customizing therapeutics." — Margaret Lock, author of, The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging

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  • Description

    In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases. At biomedical centers in Singapore and China scientists map genetic variants, disease risks, and biomarkers, mobilizing ethnicized "Asian" bodies and health data for genomic research. Their differentiation between Chinese, Indian, and Malay DNA makes fungible Singapore's ethnic-stratified databases that come to "represent" majority populations in Asia. By deploying genomic science as a public good, researchers reconfigure the relationships between objects, peoples, and spaces, thus rendering "Asia" itself as a shifting entity. In Ong's analysis, Asia emerges as a richly layered mode of entanglements, where the population's genetic pasts, anxieties and hopes, shared genetic weaknesses, and embattled genetic futures intersect. Furthermore, her illustration of the contrasting methods and goals of the Biopolis biomedical center in Singapore and BGI Genomics in China raises questions about the future direction of cosmopolitan science in Asia and beyond.

    About The Author(s)

    Aihwa Ong is Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the author of Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty and Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality, and the coeditor of Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate, all also published by Duke University Press.
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