Unfinished Lives and Multiple Deaths: Bodies, Buddhists and Organ Donation

Body and Society 28 (3):63-88 (2022)
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Abstract

This article examines an Australian campaign to increase organ and tissue donation for transplantation. It analyses the use of the gift rhetoric to promote community awareness and resources, target migrant groups, and recruit cultural and religious leaders to endorse organ and tissue donation as an altruistic act. In unpacking this ‘gift of life’ approach to organ donation, it explores the convergence of medical and religious bodies and pushes beyond uniform determinations of death to reveal how multiple deaths transpire in organ donation. Drawing on recent advances in the anthropology of becoming as a critical lens to examine death and organ donation, it examines how the ‘unfinishedness’ of donor bodies produces new possibilities for understanding donation. This article thus attends to the situated, layered and contradictory sensibilities that open up multiple and malleable understandings of the donation of body parts.

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