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Commodifying Bodies

Commodifying Bodies

Edited by:

April 2003 | 200 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Increasingly the body is a possession that does not belong to us. It is bought and sold, bartered and stolen, marketed wholesale or in parts. The professions - especially reproductive medicine, transplant surgery, and bioethics but also journalism and other cultural specialists - have been pliant partners in this accelerating commodification of live and dead human organisms. Under the guise of healing or research, they have contributed to a new 'ethic of parts' for which the divisible body is severed from the self, torn from the social fabric, and thrust into commercial transactions -- as organs, secretions, reproductive capacities, and tissues -- responding to the dictates of an incipiently global marketplace.

Breaking with established approaches which prioritize the body as 'text', the chapters in this book examine not only images of the body-turned-merchandise but actually existing organisms considered at once as material entities, semi-magical tokens, symbolic vectors and founts of lived experience. The topics covered range from the cultural disposal and media treatment of corpses, the biopolitics of cells, sperm banks and eugenics, to the international trafficking of kidneys, the development of 'transplant tourism', to the idioms of corporeal exploitation among prizefighters as a limiting case of fleshly commodity.

This insightful and arresting volume combines perspectives from anthropology, law, medicine, and sociology to offer compelling analyses of the concrete ways in which the body is made into a commodity and how its marketization in turn remakes social relations and cultural meanings.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Bodies for Sale - Whole or in Parts
Lawrence Cohen
The Other Kidney
Biopolitics Beyond Recognition

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Commodity Fetishism in Organs Trafficking
Margaret Lock
The Alienation of Body Tissues and the Biopolitics of Immortalized Cell Lines
Meira Weiss
The Immigrating Body and the Body Politic
The 'The Yeminite Children Affair' and Body Commodification in Israel

Stanley Brandes
The Cremated Catholic
The Ends of a Deceased Guatemalan

Eric Klinenberg
Bodies That Don't Matter
Death and Dereliction in Chicago

Diane M Tober
Semen as Gift, Semen as Goods
Reproductive Workers and The Market in Altruism

Maria E Epele
Excess Scarcity and Desire among Drug-Using Sex Workers
Loic Wacquant
Whores, Slaves and Stallions
Languages of Exlpoitation and Accommodation among Professional Boxers


"The book is provocative, compelling and theoretically sophisticated, yet clear. It would be excellent for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses."

Margot Weiss
Duke University

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