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 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.
This chapter discusses how Asian scientists interpret population genetic data to tell a story about the conceptual unity of diverse peoples on the continent. Against the backdrop of historical and continuing political tensions, scientists at Biopolis have led the effort to form a first-ever, trans-Asian genetic network. The assembled genetic data have permitted researchers to claim that a single human wave out of Africa populated the Asian continent, thus challenging an earlier anthropological model of a two-prong entry. By stirring affects of genetic pride, storytelling participates in a scientific renewal of “pan-Asianism” by getting disparate colleagues together as a single...