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Staying Alive:: Affect, identity and anxiety in organ transplantation
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9360-0931
2015 (English)In: Body & Society, ISSN 1357-034X, E-ISSN 1460-3632, Vol. 21, no 3, 20-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The field of human organ transplantation, and most particularly that of heart transplantation where the donor is always deceased, is one in which the rhetoric of hope leaves little room for any exploration or understanding of the more negative emotions and affects that recipients may experience. Where a donated heart is commonly referred to as the ‘gift of life’ both in lay discourse and by those engaged in transplantation procedures, how does this imbricate with the alternative clinical term of a ‘graft’? For recipients of donor organs, the experience of living on in the face of otherwise certain death is fraught with complex emotions not only about the self and the now dead other, but the persistence of the other within the self. In contrast to our expectations of the feel-good narrative of the gift of life, recipients are often significantly troubled by the aftermath of the procedure, which may fundamentally challenge notions of personal identity, as well as having deep implications for our understanding of the relation between death and 'staying alive'. Drawing on recent research into heart transplantation, I theorise the field through a reflection – drawing on both Mauss and Derrida - on the meaning the gift, before moving on to consider whether a Deleuzian approach to both the assemblage and the ‘event’ of death might offer a more productive framework.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015. Vol. 21, no 3, 20-41 p.
Keyword [en]
organ transplantation, identity, gift of life, assemblage
National Category
Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120321DOI: 10.1177/1357034X15585886ISI: 000360821800002OAI: diva2:843717
Available from: 2015-07-30 Created: 2015-07-30 Last updated: 2015-12-18Bibliographically approved

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Shildrick, Margrit
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The Department of Gender StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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