'(East) Asia' as a platform for debate: grouping and bioethics

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Sleeboom-Faulkner, Margaret (2016)
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

This article examines the use of the notions of “Asian” and “East Asian” in definitions of bioethics. Using examples from East Asia, I argue that the verbal Asianization of bioethics is based on the notion of “Asia” as a family metaphor and serves as a platform of bioethical debate, networking, and political change. I maintain that the use of “Asia” and “East Asia” to shape bioethics is not so much a sign of inward-looking regionalism, but an attempt to build bridges among Asian countries, while putting up a common stance against what educated elites interpret as undesirable global trends of Westernization through bioethics. Using the notions of “grouping” and “segmentary systems” to show the performative nature of characterizations of (East) Asian bioethics, allowing users to mark regional identity, share meanings, take political positions, and network. Deploying Peter Haas’s notion of “epistemic communities,” I argue that academic and political elites translate “home” issues into “Asia speak,” while at the same time, introducing and giving shape to “new” bioethical issues. Although the “Asianisms” and group-marking activities of Asian networks of bioethics are ideological, thereby engaging in the politics of in/exclusion, they succeed in putting politically sensitive topics on the agenda.
  • References (5)

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    Dale, Peter. 1995. The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness. London & New York: Routledge.

    De Castro, Leonardo D. 1999. “Is there an Asian Bioethics?” Bioethics 13: 227-35.

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