Bioethics, Modernity and Subjectivity

Photograph of Biopolis one-north, a business park located in Queenstown, Singapore

This research project examines how the emergence and globalisation of new languages of virtue like human rights and bioethics have reshaped the government of health and biomedicine. Specifically, it studies the development of bioethics and its impact on the regulation of biomedical research in the UK and Singapore. Building on extensive archival and ethnographic research and drawing on insights from governmentality studies, it starts by exploring the contrasting understandings of modernity underpinning the development of a bioethical assemblage in the UK and Singapore over the last fifty years. Furthermore, influenced by the literature on bio-sociality and biological citizenship, the project also examines the ways in which these assemblages have reconfigured the figure of the research subject in both countries.

This project was funded through a University of London Leon Studentship in the Social Sciences, a London School of Economics’ Research Studentship and a Universities UK’s Overseas Research Student Award. It also benefited from Visiting Fellowships at the Brocher Foundation and the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. The project resulted a series of publications in leading academic journals like Social Studies of Science, Social Science & Medicine, Social Theory & Health, Citizenship Studies, Global Public Health and International Political Sociology. It has also led to the publication of an edited collection with Routledge entitled Assembling Health Rights in Global Context: Genealogies and Anthropologies, which brings together papers by leading sociologists, anthropologists and historians presented at a Wellcome-Trust funded Workshop on Human Rights and Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Moreover, findings from the project were also presented at seminars at: the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London; the Collegium Helveticum, Federal Technical School Zurich; the Global Health Programme, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva; and the Anthropology Department, University of Cambridge.