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Provides an exciting approach to some of the most contentious issues in discussions around globalization—bioscientific research, neoliberalism, governance—from the perspective of the "anthropological" problems they pose; in other words, in terms of their implications for how individual and collective life is subject to technological, political, and ethical reflection and intervention. Offers a ground-breaking approach to central debates about globalization with chapters written by leading scholars from across the social sciences. Examines a range of phenomena that articulate broad structural transformations: technoscience, circuits of exchange, systems of governance, and regimes of ethics or values. Investigates these phenomena from the perspective of the “anthropological” problems they pose. Covers a broad range of geographical areas: Africa, the Middle East, East and South Asia, North America, South America, and Europe. Grapples with a number of empirical problems of popular and academic interest — from the organ trade, to accountancy, to pharmaceutical research, to neoliberal reform.
Provides an exciting approach to some of the most contentious issues in discussions around globalization—bioscientific research, neoliberalism, governance—from the perspective of the "anthropological" problems they pose; in other words, in terms of their implications for how individual and collective life is subject to technological, political, and ethical reflection and intervention. Offers a ground-breaking approach to central debates about globalization with chapters written by leading scholars from across the social sciences. Examines a range of phenomena that articulate broad structural transformations: technoscience, circuits of exchange, systems of governance, and regimes of ethics or values. Investigates these phenomena from the perspective of the “anthropological” problems they pose. Covers a broad range of geographical areas: Africa, the Middle East, East and South Asia, North America, South America, and Europe. Grapples with a number of empirical problems of popular and academic interest — from the organ trade, to accountancy, to pharmaceutical research, to neoliberal reform.
Neoliberalism is commonly viewed as an economic doctrine that seeks to limit the scope of government. Some consider it a form of predatory capitalism with adverse effects on the Global South. In this groundbreaking work, Aihwa Ong offers an alternative view of neoliberalism as an extraordinarily malleable technology of governing that is taken up in different ways by different regimes, be they authoritarian, democratic, or communist. Ong shows how East and Southeast Asian states are making exceptions to their usual practices of governing in order to position themselves to compete in the global economy. As she demonstrates, a variety of neoliberal strategies of governing are re-engineering political spaces and populations. Ong’s ethnographic case studies illuminate experiments and developments such as China’s creation of special market zones within its socialist economy; pro-capitalist Islam and women’s rights in Malaysia; Singapore’s repositioning as a hub of scientific expertise; and flexible labor and knowledge regimes that span the Pacific. Ong traces how these and other neoliberal exceptions to business as usual are reconfiguring relationships between governing and the governed, power and knowledge, and sovereignty and territoriality. She argues that an interactive mode of citizenship is emerging, one that organizes people—and distributes rights and benefits to them—according to their marketable skills rather than according to their membership within nation-states. Those whose knowledge and skills are not assigned significant market value—such as migrant women working as domestic maids in many Asian cities—are denied citizenship. Nevertheless, Ong suggests that as the seam between sovereignty and citizenship is pried apart, a new space is emerging for NGOs to advocate for the human rights of those excluded by neoliberal measures of human worthiness.
In recent years, new disease threats such as SARS, avian flu, mad cow disease, and drug-resistant strains of malaria and tuberculosis have garnered media attention and galvanized political response. Proposals for new approaches to "securing health" against these threats have come not only from public health and medicine but also from such fields as emergency management, national security, and global humanitarianism. This volume provides a map of this complex and rapidly transforming terrain. The editors focus on how experts, public officials, and health practitioners work to define what it means to "secure health" through concrete practices such as global humanitarian logistics, pandemic preparedness measures, vaccination campaigns, and attempts to regulate potentially dangerous new biotechnologies. As the contributions show, despite impressive activity in these areas, the field of "biosecurity interventions" remains unstable. Many basic questions are only beginning to be addressed: Who decides what counts as a biosecurity problem? Who is responsible for taking action, and how is the efficacy of a given intervention to be evaluated? It is crucial to address such questions today, when responses to new problems of health and security are still taking shape. In this context, this volume offers a form of critical and reflexive knowledge that examines how technical efforts to increase biosecurity relate to the political and ethical challenges of living with risk.
In what way is »care« a matter of »tinkering«? Rather than presenting care as a (preferably »warm«) relation between human beings, the various contributions to the volume give the material world (usually cast as »cold«) a prominent place in their analysis. Thus, this book does not continue to oppose care and technology, but contributes to rethinking both in such a way that they can be analysed together. Technology is not cast as a functional tool, easy to control - it is shifting, changing, surprising and adaptable. In care practices all »things« are (and have to be) tinkered with persistently. Knowledge is fluid, too. Rather than a set of general rules, the knowledges (in the plural) relevant to care practices are as adaptable and in need of adaptation as the technologies, the bodies, the people, and the daily lives involved.
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.
This collection of five essays by Germany’s most prominent and influential social thinker both links Luhmann’s social theory to the question “What is modern about modernity?” and shows the origins and context of his theory. In the introductory essay, “Modernity in Contemporary Society,” Luhmann develops the thesis that the modern epistemological situation can be seen as the consequence of a radical change in social macrostructures that he calls “social differentiation,” thereby designating the juxtaposition of and interaction between a growing number of social subsystems without any hierarchical structure. “European Rationality” defines rationality as the capacity to see the difference between systems and their environment as a unity. Luhmann argues that, in a world characterized by contingency, rationality tends to become coextensive with imagination, a view that challenges their classical binary opposition and opens up the possibility of seeing modern rationality as a paradox. In the third essay, “Contingency as Modern Society’s Defining Attribute,” Luhmann develops a further and probably even more important paradox: that the generalization of contingency or cognitive uncertainty is precisely what provides stability within modern societies. In the process, he argues that medieval and early modern theology can be seen as a “preadaptive advance” through which Western thinking prepared itself for the modern epistemological situation. In “Describing the Future,” Luhmann claims that neither the traditional hope of learning from history nor the complementary hope of cognitively anticipating the future can be maintained, and that the classical concept of the future should be replaced by the notion of risk, defined as juxtaposing the expectation of realizing certain projects and the awareness that such projects might fail. The book concludes with “The Ecology of Ignorance,” in which Luhmann outlines prospective research areas “for sponsors who have yet to be identified.”

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