Science, patriotism and discourses of nation and culture:Reflections on the South Korean stem cell breakthroughs and scandals

Chekar, Choon Key and Kitzinger, Jenny (2007) Science, patriotism and discourses of nation and culture:Reflections on the South Korean stem cell breakthroughs and scandals. New Genetics and Society, 26 (3). pp. 289-307. ISSN 1463-6778

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Abstract

Bio-technological research is refracted through, and has implications for, national and international economies, status, image and networks. Human embryo stem cell research, for example, brings potentially very high financial and reputational rewards, but also can carry great risks. This was dramatically illustrated in the South Korean debacle. Breakthroughs announced in 2004 and 2005 placed South Korea at the cutting edge of this biotechnology. International attention and national celebration was, however, followed by scandal as questions were raised about the ethics and then the scientific validity of some of the work. In this paper we focus on how ideas about nation and culture were mobilized in discussion about South Korea. In particular we highlight how the same 'cultural explanations' were used both to account for stupendous success and then to explain fraudulent failure. From this perspective discourses about culture are treated not as unproblematic statements of fact but as practices in their own right - which travel across South Korean and international contexts for competing strategic ends. We conclude by discussing how the cultural explanation can obscure as much as it reveals, and also how nationalism might be implicated in discussion of cutting edge scientific enterprise not only in (and about) South Korea, but in (and about) other nation states too. Science and culture are always profoundly intertwined - the South Korean case may be an extreme example of 'scientific nationalism', but it has ramifications for thinking about science and society across the world as a whole.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
New Genetics and Society
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2719
Subjects:
ID Code:
153086
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Mar 2021 14:00
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
24 Mar 2021 21:23