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Messy entanglements: research assemblages in heart transplantation discourses and practices
  1. Margrit Shildrick1,
  2. Andrew Carnie2,
  3. Alexa Wright3,
  4. Patricia McKeever4,
  5. Emily Huan-Ching Jan5,
  6. Enza De Luca6,
  7. Ingrid Bachmann5,
  8. Susan Abbey7,
  9. Dana Dal Bo5,
  10. Jennifer Poole8,
  11. Tammer El-Sheikh5,
  12. Heather Ross6
  1. 1 Tema Genus, Tema Institute, Linkopings universitet, Linköping, Sweden
  2. 2 Winchester School of Art, Southampton University, Winchester, UK
  3. 3 Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, University of Westminster, London, UK
  4. 4 Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5 Department of Studio Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  6. 6 Department of Cardiology and Transplantation, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  7. 7 Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  8. 8 Faculty of Community Services, School of Social Work, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Margrit Shildrick, Tema Genus, Tema Institute, Linköping University, Linköping SE-581 83, Sweden; margrit.shildrick{at}


The paper engages with a variety of data around a supposedly single biomedical event, that of heart transplantation. In conventional discourse, organ transplantation constitutes an unproblematised form of spare part surgery in which failing biological components are replaced by more efficient and enduring ones, but once that simple picture is complicated by employing a radically interdisciplinary approach, any biomedical certainty is profoundly disrupted. Our aim, as a cross-sectorial partnership, has been to explore the complexities of heart transplantation by explicitly entangling research from the arts, biosciences and humanities without privileging any one discourse. It has been no easy enterprise yet it has been highly productive of new insights. We draw on our own ongoing funded research with both heart donor families and recipients to explore our different perceptions of what constitutes data and to demonstrate how the dynamic entangling of multiple data produces a constitutive assemblage of elements in which no one can claim priority. Our claim is that the use of such research assemblages and the collaborations that we bring to our project breaks through disciplinary silos to enable a fuller comprehension of the significance and experience of heart transplantation in both theory and practice.

  • art
  • cardiology
  • philosophy
  • social science

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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to the following: (1) conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, (2) drafting the article or critically revising for publication, (3) final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Funding British Council/Arts Council England–Artists’ International Development Fund, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec (Canada), Concordia University (Canada).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University Health Network Research Ethics Board.

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

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