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New Organs Within Us


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Table of Contents

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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An ethnographic analysis of organ transplantation in Turkey, based on the stories of kidney-transplant patients and physicians in Istanbul

About the Author

Aslihan Sanal is a cultural anthropologist who focuses on science and medical technology. She received her PhD from MIT in 2005, and is currently working as an independent scholar. This is her first book.


"New Organs Within Us is a tour de force. A brave, nuanced, and caring journey into the lives of transplant patients and the new worlds of meaning they tentatively inhabit. Soulfully written, the book changes the way we think about inner life and well-being, technology and human agency, and the impact of the global biomedical enterprise on local health systems. Social scientists and medical practitioners will have to reckon with this exceptional analysis for years to come." Joao Biehl, author of the award-winning books Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment and Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival "I learned a great deal from this brilliant book. There is nothing else like it in the ethnographic literature on comparative high-tech medicine. Aslihan Sanal reaches far beyond the story of transplant patients and the organ trade in Turkey, taking in global flows of knowledge and ethics around brain death, organ donation, and standards of care, and the worldwide organ trade, in which organs are exchanged legally and on the black market." Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Professor of Social Medicine, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School "The ethical aspects of transplantation have long attracted non-clinical writers. Too often, their work seems a case of supply rather than demand - as does Aslihan Sanal's New Organs Within Us, which opens with an imaginary first-person account of disease, dialysis and transplant from the perspective of a young woman, Zehra. "In the invention of technoscientific imaginaries such as Zehra's, biological knowledge takes over the authority of the intuitive and the desirable, chaining the person to a former lifeworld, from which she can hardly escape. As the binary oppositions inherent in the dream-versus nature-states vanish, comprehension in takes over by an altogether new sense that literally perceives social life as one's own body."." - Druin Burch, Times Literary Supplement, August 10th 2012

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