"Badnam” Science? The Spectre of the ‘Bad’ Name and the Politics of Stem Cell Science in India

27.01.2016 17:00

"Badnam” Science? The Spectre of the ‘Bad’ Name and the Politics of Stem Cell Science in India

Dr. Aditya Bharadwaj

The range of the implicit meanings of badnam (bad name) stop short of unpacking the complexity underscoring the implied soiling and spoiling of ‘name’: the crucible of reputation, honour, and dignity. What happens when diverse stakeholders working in the burgeoning and high‐stakes field of stem cell science in India fear badnami, ignominy (to invoke one possible meaning), in the context of a regulatory flux and fears of rapidly deepening reputation of the field as a maverick site for stem cell research and clinical application? Drawing on longitudinal research mapping the stem cell technology terrain in India and the changing fortunes of a small clinical facility, the lecture will show how the spectre of ‘spoilt name’ (or badnami) haunts professional narratives and how scientific validation, national honour, economic viability, therapeutic efficacy, and safety come to reside in the ‘name’. The lecture conceptualizes ‘name’ as inherently vulnerable and examines its threatened status to highlight the unnameable, unspecified aspect that survives demanding a new name despite the ethics and politics implicit in naming and ‘name‐calling’.

Aditya Bharadwaj is Research Professor of Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. His research interests lie in the fields of biomedicine (in local/global perspective), biotechnologies (embryonic stem cells/molecular genetics), and reproductive health and technologies (medically managed birth/new reproductive technologies).

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