Accepted Paper:

The Placenta Economy: From Trashed to Treasured Bio-Assets.  


Charlotte Kroløkke (University of Southern Denmark)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about the emergent placenta economy and the ways that placentas circulate and become a valuable commodity.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation examines the human placenta not only as a scientific, medical and biological entity but as a consumer bio-product. In the emergent placenta economy, the human placenta is exchanged and gains potentiality as food, medicine and cosmetics. Drawing on empirical research from the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Japan, I use feminist cultural analysis and consumer theories to discuss how the placenta is exchanged and gains commodity status as a medical supplement, smoothie, pill and anti-aging lotion. Placenta preparers and new mothers cite medical properties and spirituality as reasons for eating or encapsulating the placenta, reinstating ideas of the liberated good mother. Meanwhile the cosmetics industry situates the placenta as an extract and hence a commodity, re-naturalizing it as an anti-aging, rejuvenating and whitening bio-product.

Panel T005
Turning Things into Assets