2013 年 30 巻 p. 322-340
This essay attempts to discuss the cultural origin of conventional behaviors commonly found in diverse actors confronting new technologies for life; i.e., bioscientific controversies on organ transplantation from brain-dead donors and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Japan. Although these issues have different socio-historical contexts, the transplantation medicine and the agricultural biotechnology seem to share common characteristics: both organs and GMOs are determined to be acceptable as a natural part of bodily self or rejected as artificial others; there are ambiguous areas of behaviors, for instance, prevailing transplantations from living organ donors which are officially undesirable and “transplantation tourism”, as well as widespread consumption of food products derived from GMOs despite outward rejection by consumers and retailers with substantially restrictive institutions for their commercialization. In order to consider such common properties of collective behaviors, I apply the model of pollution in the early work by Mary Douglas as an analytical frame of the Otherness, in combination with the typology of strangers in Japanese folklores formulated by Komatsu Kazuhiko. Furthermore, each type of the Otherness may be corresponded to images of border area outside the community, where trade of excluded pollutants emerges.
From the perspective, the practices of both organ transplantation and commercialization of GMOs are ostensibly excluded from the whole society as stigmatized ‘Pariah' because of their infringement from the inside community, and then put into the border area in which no mandatory rules are established. However, in this ‘areolar space', organs and GMOs can freely be imported and circulated as ‘Alien' in an unnoticed form throughout the market with least rules. Historical contingencies of preceding technologies that may cause such conventions managing the border area are also discussed, by which Japanese society can enjoy the benefit of technology that may potentially threaten the normal order of the majority of communities, while sustaining the purity of traditional values inherited within those communities.