ASA2016: Footprints and futures: the time of anthropology

Politics, 'market-making' and the organ trade: empirical accounts of (in)human practices
Location [TBD]
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions 0


  • Ciara Kierans (The University of Liverpool) email
  • Seán Columb (University of liverpool) email

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Short Abstract

This panel's aim is to critically interrogate the analytical frameworks which underpin empirical studies of the contemporary practice of organ exchange. We encourage papers which offer comparative, critical and empirically driven understandings of the global market in organ and tissue exchange.

Long Abstract

The exchange of organs and tissues and the range of questions and problems bound up with it has been a focal topic for anthropologists and ethnographers for over forty years. Work in this area has been anchored in anthropology's rich conceptual heritage on exchange (from gift-giving to market and contract models to trafficking), a heritage that continues to provide a catalyst for new studies which re-work old questions, generate new analytical and methodological insights, and expand the ground of politics, ethics and critique.

The objective of this panel is to critically interrogate the analytical frameworks which support studies of the contemporary practice of organ exchange: (e.g, culture, economy, law and ethics).We are particularly interested in studies of organ or tissue trading which open up our understanding of the state-market-society nexus in new ways. Specifically, we invite papers which critically assess existing literatures; share and discuss empirical research on the local arrangements and situated practices which allow organs to operate as tradable goods; contribute analytical insights on the specific character of politics, policy and the economic and social arrangements (e.g., new forms of flexible labour and migration) that underpin these practices and from there, offer reappraisals of the value of theoretical and methodological approaches which are not sufficiently sensitive to specificity and contingency.

The aim of the panel is to encourage comparative understandings of the global market in organ exchange and the indigenisation of the transplant complex that take for granted its 'actually existing' characteristics.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The panel has no papers to display. Only accepted papers will be shown here.