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Week 22

Theme 6 Bodies and the body politic: life, death and organ transplantation

Week 22

Brain-dead: medical morality in the non-western world

How do we recognize the dead? What constitutes the absence of life? In the west, and in part because of the new tissue-based treatments, we have defined ‘death’ as the absence of cognition. But this choice is culturally contingent. This week we will look at the ‘brain death’ debates, comparing the West with Japan.

 

Seminar topic: Culture and the social self

Why and how is ‘identity’ social? What do cultural differences in identity (individual, familial, and/or national) mean for medicine and medical technologies?

 

Required Reading:

  • Gary S. Belkin, ‘Brain Death and the Historical Understanding of Bioethics’, Journal of the History of Medicine 58 , (July 2003):325-361 Project Muse
  • Margaret Lock, ‘Deadly Disputes: Hybrid Selves and the Calculation of Death in Japan and North America’, Osiris, 2nd Series, Vol. 13, (1998), pp. 410-429. JSTOR
  • E. Ohnuki-Tierney, “The Reduction of Personhood to Brain and Rationality: Japanese contestation of medical high technology.” in Andrews and Cunningham, Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge (Manchester: Manchester University Press 1997) 212-240. SHORT LOAN

Background and Further Reading:

Watch: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/transplanting-memories/4od

George J. Annas, ‘At Law: Brain Death and Organ Donation: You Can Have One without the Other’, The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Jun. - Jul., 1988), pp. 28-30

Veena Das, 'The Practice of Organ Transplants: Networks, Documents, Translations', in Margaret Lock, Allan Young, Alberto Cambrosio, eds, Living and Working with the New Medical Technologies: Intersections of Inquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 263-287.

RD Guttmann, ‘Technology, clinical studies, and control in the field of organ transplantation’ Journal of the History of Biology 30:3 (1997): 367-79

Margaret Lock, 'On Dying Twice: Culture, Technology and the Determination of Death', in Margaret Lock, Allan Young, Alberto Cambrosio, eds, Living and Working with the New Medical Technologies: Intersections of Inquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 233-262.

Ilana Lowy, ‘Tissue groups and cadaver kidney sharing: socio-cultural aspects of a medical controversy’, International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, 2, (1986): 195-218.