This paper examines two Indian texts, Anand Gandhi’s film The Ship of Theseus (2012) and Manjula Padmanabhan’s play Harvest (1998), which deal with complex biopolitical and geopolitical questions around organ transplantation, for their treatment of corporeal, geopolitical and ethical borders.
By dramatising the lives of carriers who are both receivers and donors, the texts enact boundaries, visible and invisible, from both sides. I focus on the carrier of the diseased organ—already a stranger, as Jean-Luc Nancy describes his own failing heart in L’Intrus (2000)—and the carrier of the alien organ and show how these raise moral and ethical questions around organ transplantation. I first argue that these texts foreground biopolitical quandaries even as they narrate the moral economies of transplantation. I then delineate the ways in which the texts employ a posthuman imaginary. The texts raise questions around organ transplantation that while emanating from the invasion of corporeal borders also reflect the permeability of social borders, and while doing so, posit the human in today’s medicalised terrain as a fragmented, multiple self that is embedded in the environment and co-evolves with it.
By addressing the altered sense of self of the ‘body-in-transplant’ through a posthumanist lens that accounts for relationality and the acknowledgement of a plural self, the paper hopes to make a contribution to a better understanding of the vulnerable post-transplant patient.
- Medical humanities
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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.