New organs within us : transplants and the moral economy


    • Sanal, Aslihan


New organs within us : transplants and the moral economy

Aslihan Sanal

(Experimental futures : technological lives, scientific arts, anthropological voices)

Duke University Press, 2011

  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [221]-231) and index



New Organs Within Us is a richly detailed and conceptually innovative ethnographic analysis of organ transplantation in Turkey. Drawing on the moving stories of kidney-transplant patients and physicians in Istanbul, Aslihan Sanal examines how imported biotechnologies are made meaningful and acceptable not only to patients and doctors, but also to the patients' families and Turkish society more broadly. She argues that the psychological theory of object relations and the Turkish concept of benimseme-the process of accepting something foreign by making it one's own-help to explain both the rituals that physicians perform to make organ transplantation viable in Turkey and the psychic transformations experienced by patients who suffer renal failure and undergo dialysis and organ transplantation. Soon after beginning dialysis, patients are told that transplantable kidneys are in short supply; they should look for an organ donor. Poorer patients add their names to the state-run organ share lists. Wealthier patients pay for organs and surgeries, often in foreign countries such as India, Russia, or Iraq. Sanal links Turkey's expanding trade in illegal organs to patients' desires to be free from dialysis machines, physicians' qualms about declaring brain-death, and media-hyped rumors of a criminal organ mafia, as well as to the country's political instability, the privatization of its hospitals, and its position as a hub in the global market for organs.


Prologue. The Accurate Nature of Things xi Introduction. What Makes the World Our Own 1 The Book 6 In the Field 7 Part One. The Desirable 15 Half a Human 15 From the Earth, Through the Quake 21 Against the Tide 26 Traveling to the West and the East 30 Within the Experiment 36 Close to Death 41 Internal Objects 44 Words of Life 46 The Biopolis 50 East of "Reason," West of "Eternal Life" 54 Regulating Human Affairs, Fears, Emotions 63 The Economy of Human Flesh and Bones 85 The Biopolis's Vocations 95 Twice Inert, Lifeless, and Life-less 108 Part Two. The Impossible 111 Spaces of Death 111 The Pool of the Dead 118 Mehmed 122 Insanity 128 Kadavra 130 Beyond the Mirror 134 Dissection and Disenchantment 140 Burial 143 Rites of Diffusion 146 Reburial 150 Suicide 153 Dying Metaphors 160 Sacrifice 165 The Possible 175 Conclusion. New Life 179 Epistemic Passages 180 Benimseme 191 Acknowledgments 197 Notes 201 Bibliography 221 Index 233

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