Questions of the social implications of biotechnology and biological exchange (the extraction of human tissues such as blood, skin and organs for testing, storage and/or distribution for therapeutic or research purposes) have recently been brought strongly to the analytical fore across the social sciences. This book focuses on the variegated biopolitical milieus of this kind of exchange specifically in South Asia. It ranges widely – theoretically, thematically, and regionally – in examining South Asian variants of and engagements with diverse modes of biological exchange: caste, gender, and blood donation in Pakistan, DNA testing amongst a former Untouchable community in south India and amongst diasporic Indians in Houston, Texas, body (cadaveric) donation in India, the use of fake blood in Bangladeshi cinema, the mobilisation of blood, hearts, and ketones to protest the Indian government’s failure to provide redress or care to victims of the 1984 Bhopal industrial disaster, and blood-based political portraits and petitions in south India. In considering this complex of issues, this book extends the parameters of classic accounts of the role of substance transactions in the production of South Asian personhood into investigations of the biopolitics and economies of substance that shape people and communities in diverse parts of the subcontinent, describing findings that illuminate how local responses to the implementation of various kinds of tissue economy both reflect and also transform socio-cultural values in South Asia.
This book was published as a special issue of Contemporary South Asia.
1. Introduction: South Asian tissue economies 2. Blood splattered Bengal: The spectacular spurting blood of the Bangladeshi cinema 3. Writing the disaster: substance activism after Bhopal 4. Portraits of substance: image, text and intervention in India’s sanguinary politics 5. Forbidden exchanges and gender: implications for blood donation during a maternal health emergency in Punjab, Pakistan 6. Citizens in the commons: blood and genetics in the making of the civic 7. The substance that empowers? DNA in South Asia 8. Interweaving fragments of ethical publicity and ethical resistance: the quest for cadaver organs in India 9. Afterword: Given over to demand: excorporation as commitment