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Living with others inside the self: decolonising transplantation, selfhood and the body politic in Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring
  1. Donna McCormack
  1. Correspondence to Dr Donna McCormack, School of English and Languages, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK; d.mccormack{at}


This article examines anxieties concerning organ transplantation in Nalo Hopkinson's prize-winning novel Brown Girl in the Ring (1998). The main focus is how this novel re-imagines subjectivity and selfhood as an embodied metaphor for the reconfiguring of broader sociopolitical relations. In other words, this article analyses the relationship between the transplanted body and the body politic, arguing that a post-transplant identity, where there is little separation between donor and recipient, is the foundation for a politics based on responsibility for others. Such a responsibility poses a challenge to the race and class segregation that is integral to the post-apocalyptic world of Hopkinson's novel. Transplantation is not a utopian vision of an egalitarian society coming together in one body; rather, this biotechnological intervention offers a potentially different mode of thinking what it means to work across race, class and embodied division, while always recalling the violence that might facilitate so-called medical progress.

  • Politics
  • Gender studies
  • Literature
  • Immunology

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.