Natasha Lushetich


The chief focus of this paper is the production of value in discourses and practices that govern forms of living and dying in general, and organ transplantation in particular. Informed by concepts of liminality (a period and state of being between social statuses), intercorporeity  (the uninterrupted continuum of all sentient beings, plants, minerals and inanimate matter) and subjectification (the production of self and belonging as entwined with the production of knowledge and political forms of regulation), it examines the emotional, material, symbolic and exchange values of transplanted organs that live after death.

More specifically, it examines the role of linguistic performativity in biomedical practices ranging from 'character-building' (a narrative technique by means of which the biological, social and moral value of both the donor body and the recipient body is construed with reference to class, race, gender and creed), and technocratic coinages such a 'biocapital' (which refers to engineered embryos acting as tissue sources) to pre-formatted online memorials in which the kin make the deceased donor speak in the hope of communicating with the recipient. In doing so the paper argues for a distinctly somatic dimension of language as a network of speech acts which create life itself, not only new social realities.

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