Prof Robert Simpson 'We have always been modern: Buddhism, Science and the New Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka'
SpeakersProf Robert Simpson, Reader, Department of Anthropology, University of Durham
VenueUniversity of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,br />St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJRoom no: GF7, Byrne House
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PM
We have always been modern: Buddhism, Science and the New Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka
This paper explores the traffic in ideas concerning new reproductive technologies in contemporary Sri Lanka. It attempts to locate the responses to the moral challenges posed by the new bio-technologies within wider political, religious and cultural traditions. In particular, it considers the way that embryogenesis is talked about by a variety of interested parties: infertility doctors, members of ethics committees, Buddhist priests and concerned lay people. The paper discusses a distinctive historical alignment between Buddhism and science before moving on to locate recent advances in bio-technology within an emergent Buddhist embryology and ontology of the person. The paper concludes with a discussion of the relationship between science, ethics and pluralism in the post-colonial state. The paper seeks to throw light on how a rhetoric of acceptance and endorsement is constructed amongst sections of the medical and scientific community and how, in turn, this is presented as the ‘Buddhist’ response. Although the attitudes and beliefs described are held by a relative small number of people, they nonetheless represent a tributary into a much more powerful ideological flow based on the claim that there is a distinctive ‘asian bioethics’ which is at once different from a ‘western bioethics’ and more congenial to the people of Asia.