Research Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
(February – May 2016)
Red Revolution: The Emergence of Stem Cell Biotechnologies in India
The biotechnological landscape in India can be conceptually demarcated as green and red. The post-independence, state supported, rise of ‘green, agricultural, biotechnologies’ – heralding the fabled ‘green revolution’ – is well documented. Less well understood is the recent rise of ‘red biotechnologies’ and moves to engineer a ‘red revolution’ of health care based on human tissues and biogenetic substance. The proposed project analyses the interplay between state, citizens/consumers and emerging markets in human stem cell technologies in India. These developments pose profound bioethical and political questions. The research examines the emerging research/therapy interface with a view to explicating the ‘high risk and high gain’ production of stem cell biotechnologies in India. The study will produce an in-depth multi-sited ethnographic mapping of the stem cell terrain in India. The main objective of this research is to critically understand the agential and structural processes authoring unprecedented new developments in stem cell research and therapeutics in India. These processes are captured under four interlaced research themes: (1) promissory health: state, citizens and stem cell biotechnologies (2) therapeutic mobility: global travel for stem cells (3) bioeconomy and biotechnology: public health or private wealth? (4) ethics of governance, governance of ethics. These important nodes are entry points into the world of science, clinic, economy, policy and polity. Together these sites will enable an ethnographic mapping of the disparate assemblages of actors, local and across the globe, which the red revolution is currently forging.