IASA Seminar "Anti-sacrifice: Blood Donation and the \'Philanthropic Share\'"

◆Date and time:
Nov. 25, 2016 (Fri.), 3:00-5:00PM

Conference Room 1 (3rd Floor), The Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo

Dr Jacob Copeman (Senior Lecturer, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK/ Visiting Associate Professor, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan)

◆Language: English

Anti-sacrifice: Blood Donation and the \'Philanthropic Share\'

Drawing on ethnographic research in Delhi and Kolkata on educational campaigns concerning blood donation and transfusion, this paper explores how voluntary blood donor organizations seek to educate schoolchildren and others about the quantities of blood that can be safely donated. This requires a wholesale re-proportioning of existing understandings of the human body’s hematological productive capacities. The key point they seek to convey is that the body produces more blood than it needs, and that this portion of excess blood can thus be given without the body losing anything. This insight is at odds with conventional understandings of blood donation in the region as involving non-recuperable loss, an understanding that informs perceptions of blood donation as a sacrificial gesture. Employing Bataille’s notion of ‘excess’ energy in The Accursed Share (1988), I seek to show how for such campaigners the body comes to be perceived as made for giving -- the body contains a philanthropic share of blood.


Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia(IASA), the University of Tokyo
Japanese Association for South Asian Studies