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Sunshine technology and dream biology: perceptions of regenerative medicine in Japan

Bia, Jesse; (2018) Sunshine technology and dream biology: perceptions of regenerative medicine in Japan. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Regenerative medicine is enthusiastically celebrated in Japan. Cutting edge stem cell research and new translatable treatments are closely followed and championed: by individuals, the government, and media alike. This thesis will demonstrate how process occurs in Japan, and then explain why. Two critical reasons are posited for regenerative medicine’s extensive public endorsement. The first reason is regenerative medicine’s role in combating the effects of Japan’s demographic shift: an ongoing crisis in which the national population is both aging and shrinking at distressing rates. The demographic shift puts immense strains on healthcare infrastructure, the economy, and family dynamics, while also precipitating a rise in the prevalence of degenerative diseases. Regenerative medicine is perceived as a multivalent antidote for these demographic concerns. The second reason is regenerative medicine’s many points of continuity and symbiotic overlaps with the philosophies and methodological applications of kampo (traditional Japanese medicine). Within both regenerative medicine and kampo treatment contexts, healing is reflexive and internally oriented: medicine does not heal the body so much as small medical catalysts influence the body to heal itself – to regenerate. Participants viewed regenerative medicine and kampo as analogous, and in some cases, interchangeable. With data gathered over two consecutive years of multi-sited participant observation fieldwork in Japan, the story of regenerative medicine is deliberately told here through personal narratives, ethnography, and individual perceptions: the words and insights of participants. As a series of subjective biovalues, potentials, and imaginaries, regenerative medicine has become a malleable concept that extends far beyond just cellular therapies. In Japan, regenerative medicine manifests as hope for the immediate future, and as individuals project their optimism onto it, regenerative medicine can and does become whatever they want it to be.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Sunshine technology and dream biology: perceptions of regenerative medicine in Japan
Event: UCL (University College London);
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043354
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