Contrary to claims that view the life sciences as having similar effects everywhere, I draw on research in the Biopolis of Singapore to examine how an assemblage of global and situated elements engenders conditions that crystallize scientific inquiries and orient social effects in the research milieu. I trace some of the intricate relationships among many things—researchers, governments, capital, populations, mutations, maladies, and emotions in the Asian tropics—that help crystallize an emerging biomedical frontier.
I call for a richer notion of biocapital that encompasses the creation of a spectrum of material and nonmaterial benefits. Scientific entrepreneurialism in Singapore, I suggest, cannot be reduced to profit-making but includes larger goals of self-knowledge, expertise, and security. I explore the interacting logics of pluripotency and fungibility that animate scientific practices in the Biopolis: trans-Asian collaborations; Asian genetic databases; state funding and legitimacy; and genetic pride and hope, all components in forming an emerging space and style of biomedical research. “Asia” and “ethnicity” are often invoked in different registers of geography, nationality, technique, population, disease, DNA, and customized medicine, depending on the context of research and presentation. The growing network of contingent associations among a constellation of scientific objects and values, I argue, transmits feelings of corporeal vulnerability and expectations for a new biopolitics of security.