Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life
Aihwa Ong is Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the author of
Virtue and Expatriate Scientists
This chapter examines the unstable meaning of virtue in science as it goes global. It argues for a notion of “situated virtue”; in Asian nations, state-funded science is intended to serve national interests. For top expatriate scientists at Biopolis, virtue in serving the common good tends to be aligned with stages in an international career path. Foreign lab assistants, many from China and India, tend to view science more as an overseas job opportunity than a vocation. By contrast, locally born scientists, scientific virtue, and civic duty are entangled In the emergence of Singapore as a regional biomedical hub. Here, I discuss the affect of kiasu, or the fear of losing/failure, as an additional pressure on native scientists to recruit, train, and inspire younger Asian scientists to eventually take over the enterprise and shoulder regional responsibilities.
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