Accepted Paper:

Negotiating Humanness: Care, Worth, and Recognition of the Dead in Medical Training and Research   

Author:

Stephanie Cruz (University of Washington-Seattle)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is based on ethnographic research which explores multiple perspectives on the use of human bodies in U.S. medical training and research with particular attention to the transformation of bodies, from living person to dead object and questionable boundary between the two.

Paper long abstract:

The use of human bodies for research and education has a long and varied history, spanning through the years to new settings and actors but remaining the same in a critical area: the reminder that tissue is fundamentally derived from a person. The way actors respond to this understanding is the focus of this paper. How do users of human bodies characterize and reflect on the humanness of the tissue they practice with? How are these characterizations demonstrated in the language, actions and value placed on human tissue? This paper is based on ethnographic research in a US major medical school and research center with faculty, academic researchers, and lab technicians. It explores multiple perspectives on the use of human bodies in U.S. medical training and research with particular attention to the transformation of bodies, from social living beings to singular dead body and questionable boundary between the two. Doing so problematizes the notion of 'necropolitics' since transformations of bodies are multifaceted and difficult to bound. Such explorations will highlight the intermixed identities of human tissue and its users by focusing on the how care, value, and ownership over dead human bodies are negotiated in biomedical spaces and test the limits of one sovereign power over such bodies.

Panel T125
Technologies at the Frontiers of Death