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Transplantation: changing biotechnologies and imaginaries
  1. Donna McCormack1,
  2. Margrit Shildrick2
  1. 1School of Humanities, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2ERG, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Donna McCormack, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XQ, UK; donna.mccormack{at}

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This special issue explores developing understandings of the limits and possible extensions of organ and tissue transplantation. Encompassing interdisciplinary research around biomedicine, philosophy, literature and film, science and technology studies, anthropology, and transplant studies, the special issue demonstrates how our understanding of embodiment is being transformed in the age of advanced biotechnologies. As the centuries-old project of the European Enlightenment is reaching inadequacy, what is urgently needed is a thorough reconfiguration of the bioethics, epistemology and ontology of what has hitherto been understood as normative human embodiment. In our own era, these parameters are already highly contested, and it is necessary to think different presents and futures that do not take for granted the wholeness, separation and independence of the normatively healthy human body. As a discourse of immense power in shaping social expectations, mores and practices, biomedicine is a prime site for generating critical rethinking, and we aim to elucidate the impact of specific biotechnologies on how we comprehend the transformative possibilities of varying human embodiment.

Our attention is focused on the uncertainty of the body with the specific aim of giving voice to developing understandings of the inter/intracorporeal embodiment that transplantation entails. The contributions to this special issue work across a number of urgent issues and take on a wider range of corporeal entanglements than the analysis of transplantation usually entails. The transplanted materials themselves may be solid organs such as human hearts or wombs (Guntram 2021), tissues such as faces (Lafrance 2021), or porcine xenotransplants (Haddow 2021). Such articles explore the recipient experience, while others address the issue of the deceased donor (Shildrick 2021). Some are empirically based, others more concerned with teasing out a theoretical framework (McCormack 2021; Shildrick 2021). And all touch on the bioethics of the procedures. What is at stake is the …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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