Accepted Paper:

Love or indifference? Complicated relationships between scientists and experimental animals in a Japanese laboratory  

Author:

Wakana Suzuki (Kyoto University)

Paper short abstract:

I discuss how scientists affectively commit to experimental animals. The Japanese way of honoring the animals killed for scientific research has been known for “offering a ceremony” for dead animals. This paper pays attention to not only the ceremony but also everyday caring practice in a laboratory.

Paper long abstract:

Love and indifference, attachment and detachment, and honor and fear with which scientists and technicians treat their experimental animals are a paradoxical aspect of everyday practices of Animal Experimental Room in a Medical Lab in Japan. The scientists kill, or tweak the genes of these experimental animals for their research with the very same hands they used to caress and feed these animals under their custody. In Japan, some scientists even fear that the spirits of the sacrificed animals may come back to haunt them. Holding rituals to appease their spirits is a common practice.

Gesa Lindemann has argued that neurobioloical scientists see experimental animals occasionally as "technical artifacts", "conscious organisms" or "organisms being merely alive"(Lindemann 2009). It means that scientists and technicians have various kinds of attitude to the animals depending on the situation. In addition, this paper demonstrates how scientific practice and Shinto's affective dimensions are entangled.

Japanese way of honoring the animals killed for scientific research has been known for "offering a ceremony" for dead animals (Kuyoo). This paper pays attention to not only to the ceremony but also everyday caring practice in the laboratory.

Thus, I discuss how scientists and technicians affectively commit to experimental animals. Inspired by Casper Bruun Jensen and Anders Blok (Jensen and Blok 2013), who developed Actor Network Theory through Japanese techno-aminism, I explore new dimensions of contemporary Japanese techno science.

Panel P041
Scientific lifeworlds