In June we will have two Work in Progress seminar series:
20th of June at 4 pm in Room 3.1.1
Laura Schnieder (our visiting doctoral student) ‘Towards an integrative approach to “the” experimental subject’
Experimental subjects in clinical pharmaceutical research seem to be constantly meandering between mere (bio-)”thing-ness”, as mediators in an experimental system, and various (bio-) subjectivities e.g. the potential consumer, the team member in creating an innovative study design, and the informed, responsible patient. While most social scientists problematizing the role of the experimental subject in clinical research today tend to either stress processes of objectivation OR subjectivation (and/or depict a rather solid demarcation line between the two) I aim to suggest an integrative theoretical approach. Its first part, tying together the notions of the “technical thing”, the “bio-object” and the “homo sacer” among other accounts, will be the basis for the WiP-discussion.
Kerala, a southern Indian state, is known for various mass movements in the recent decades. The state has witnessed massive public participation in its successful literacy movement and blood donation campaigns. With the inspiration derived from these historical precedences, the contemporary drive for awareness in organ donation practices across the state tries to change the cultural, social and economic narratives of organ donation and transplantation. Many people from various villages, parishes, organizations and other institutions pledged their organs to the cause of cadaveric organ donation. As part of my fieldwork, I stayed in a village from the central part of Kerala, where it was claimed that the entire adult population, approximately 2000 individuals, had pledged their organs. According to the Limca Book of Records, this village is the first organ donation literate village in the country. Subsequently, the entire village became a symbolic population to represent the cause of organ donation in Kerala as a model to be emulated. During my stay in the village of Arilam, I did a survey among the local population which hinted at a different sense of bioavailability. This concept was used in the writings of Lawrence Cohen on living kidney donations in the context of everyday indebtedness. In contrast, this village made themselves bioavailable to the future organ transplant candidates in Kerala. Pledging their organs was a public promise to make their organs available for the future. Bioavailability here operates as part of a moral education and within the context of cadaveric organ donation. Also, the available organ is framed as the ethical substance of society. Thus, in this chapter, I explore the similarities and differences of the concept of bioavailability in the context of pledging organs for the future therapeutic purposes.