Global science: The convergence of biotechnology and capitalism in China
This dissertation examines the implementation of human genome projects and their social applications in China. In modern times, science and capitalism have become more proximate and no longer remain two separate and distinctive systems. How does this intertwining affect the categorization and the study of the human body in the life sciences? How does such knowledge production travel on a global scale? Instead of focusing on the West, this dissertation analyzes the way global science works from the viewpoint of China, a peripheral but important player in the booming biotechnology sector. By doing so, it provides readers with a better idea about how the "center" is defined, created, and sustained, and how it interacts with the "periphery." The findings are drawn from multi-sited fieldwork including two months of preliminary research in China, Taiwan, and Singapore in the summer of 2001, 10-months of field research at the Beijing Genomics Institute in 2002, and several trips to Western genome centers and international academic meetings in 2003. I have found that multiple forms of transnationalization are emerging in this convergence of biotechnology, global capital, and China. Some forms do not have a global center of control. Instead, particular players like states borrowed from successful cases of other countries as "templates" to implement new institutions and projects, creating disparities of regulation, cost, and resources to facilitate transnational flows of money, talent, and customers. For those having global centers of control, transnationalization connotes a division of labor and standardization for protocols and equipment. Like a global manufacturer, the international Human Genome Project consortium divided the project into segments, and allocated them to different teams in multiple countries. I call this an academic form of flexible production, and analyze the sense of alienation scientists experience when they become scientific workers in such global large-scale production. This dissertation then offers a comparative cultural study of science, an analysis of scientific transformation in China, and a thick description of the connections between the "center" and "periphery" in global biotechnology research and development.
0585: Science history
0700: Social structure