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Strange Harvest : Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self - Lesley A. Sharp

Strange Harvest

Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self

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Published: 4th October 2006
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"Strange Harvest" illuminates the wondrous yet disquieting medical realm of organ transplantation by drawing on the voices of those most deeply involved: transplant recipients, clinical specialists, and the surviving kin of deceased organ donors. In this rich and deeply engaging ethnographic study, anthropologist Lesley Sharp explores how these parties think about death, loss, and mourning, especially in light of medical taboos surrounding donor anonymity. As Sharp argues, new forms of embodied intimacy arise in response, and the riveting insights gleaned from her interviews, observations, and descriptions of donor memorials and other transplant events expose how patients and donor families make sense of the transfer of body parts from the dead to the living. For instance, all must grapple with complex yet contradictory clinical assertions of death as easily detectable and absolute; nevertheless, transplants are regularly celebrated as forms of rebirth, and donors as living on in others' bodies. New forms of sociality arise, too: recipients and donors' relatives may defy sanctions against communication, and through personal encounters strangers are transformed into kin. Sharp also considers current experimental research efforts to develop alternative sources for human parts, with prototypes ranging from genetically altered animals to sophisticated mechanical devices. These future trajectories generate intriguing responses among both scientists and transplant recipients as they consider how such alternatives might reshape established--yet unusual--forms of embodied intimacy.

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Strange Harvestp. 1
The Ideological Underpinnings of Organ Transferp. 7
Studying Transplantation in American Contextsp. 29
We are the Dead Men: Mind Over Matterp. 42
A Most Peculiar Deathp. 47
Reconstructing Donor Historiesp. 74
Body Economiesp. 92
Memory Work: Public and Private Representations of Suffering, Loss, and Redemptionp. 101
Recipient Suffering and Renewalp. 107
Honoring the Dead in Safe, Public Placesp. 123
The Private Lives of Donor Kinp. 136
Public Encounters as Subversive Actsp. 159
Bureaucratic Constraints on Social Desirep. 161
The Ties That Bindp. 181
Claiming the Donor Bodyp. 190
Human Hybridity: Scientific Longing and the Dangers of Differencep. 206
Dangerous Miraclesp. 207
Professional Desires to Cultivate Naturep. 211
Denatured Bodies and Transformed Selvesp. 227
Nature's Bodyp. 235
Epiloguep. 242
Notesp. 247
Glossaryp. 263
Referencesp. 269
Indexp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780520247864
ISBN-10: 0520247868
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 322
Published: 4th October 2006
Publisher: University of California Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.46
Edition Type: Annotated