Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self

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University of California Press, Oct 4, 2006 - Social Science - 322 pages
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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.

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Review: Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self

User Review  - Marikoisonfire - Goodreads

I'm not really someone who's all that interested in things medical, but this book is totally food for thought for those who are. And if you have any interest in death and the body and love and organs, this book strings them all together without too too much supah crazy theory to bog you down. Read full review


Introduction Strange Harvest
1 We Are the Dead Men Mind over Matter
2 Memory Work Public and Private Representations of Suffering Loss and Redemption
3 Public Encounters as Subversive Acts
4 Human Hybridity Scientific Longing and the Dangers of Difference

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Page 298 - Brain Death' and Organ Retrieval: A Cross-sectional Survey of Knowledge and Concepts Among Health Professionals", Journal of the American Medical Association, 261 (1990), 2209.
Page 1 - The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine...
Page 281 - Transmission of West Nile virus from an organ donor to four transplant recipients. N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2196-2203.
Page 275 - C. (1998) Requesting organ donation: an interview study of donor and non-donor families, American Journal of Critical Care, 7: 13-23. Douglas, M. (1990) No free gifts. Foreword to The Gift, the Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. London: Routledge. Featherstone, K. (1994) Nurses' knowledge and attitudes toward organ and tissue donation in a community hospital, Journal of Trauma Nursing, 1: 57-63.
Page 290 - Tracking the Sale of a Kidney on a Path of Poverty and Hope.

About the author (2006)

Lesley A. Sharp is Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Senior Research Scientist in Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She is the author of The Sacrificed Generation: Youth, History, and the Colonized Mind in Madagascar (UC Press) and The Possessed and the Dispossessed: Spirits, Identity, and Power in a Madagascar Migrant Town (UC Press). Additional works focus on themes of body commodification and anthropological perspectives in bioethics.

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