Accepted Paper:

Anonymous gift: framing donations in organ transplantation and human genome research  


Aivita Putnina (University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at the transformations of the concept of gift when it is applied to the parts of human body - genes and organs. Despite legal regulations gifts are never anonymous and fully detached from their donors.

Paper long abstract:

The paper addresses the gap between the legal and popular formulations of donating human biological material in two case studies: Latvian human genome project and kidney transplantation. Legally donation is based on assumption that it is free, virtuous gift from the donor. However, both legal and popular understandings of the particular donation act show significant differences in using the concept of this gift. Donation legally is seen as a singular transaction where any relatedness established by the gift is removed through anonymity and technological procession procedures. In practice, donors and organ receivers, however, seek to sustain the relationships created by the gift. Research shows how sterile process of gifting is broadened and maintained by its participants utilizing the links gifting creates but anonymity erases.

Panel P48
Gifts and their circulation in a market-based economy