Ethic of consensibility, subaltern ethicality the clinical application of embryonic stem cells ...


The article interrogates clinical and subjective patient experiences outside the institutionalized conditions of scientific communication. Drawing on the notion of "consensibility" - consensual and circumscribed rules of scientific engagement - the article re-imagines ethicality on the margins of an "ethic of consensibility" as inherently subaltern. The article is based on a multi-sited ethnography focused on a small clinical facility in India offering human embryonic stem cell (hESC) therapies for a spectrum of disorders to local and global patients. The emergence of subaltern ethicality, the article argues, is intimately linked to 'somatic ethics' in the event that a somatic ethical stance is operationalized outside the "consensible space" of science. The article draws on interview material with the clinical director and therapeutic experiences of patients from Germany, United States and Australia undergoing hESC therapy for chronic spinal cord injuries and lyme disease. In so doing, the article shows how subaltern ethicality is an ironic, critical stance pitted against demands for (bio)scientific and (bio)ethical "consensibility" while seeking to become incorporated and normalized within its folds.