Good Gifts for the Common Good: Blood and Bioethics in the Market of Genetic Research: Supplemental Material

This post builds on the research article “Good Gifts for the Common Good: Blood and Bioethics in the Market of Genetic Research,” which was published in the August 2007 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.

Editorial Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published a range of articles on the cultural dimensions of genetics. See, for example, Michael J. Montoya's "Bioethnic Conscription: Genes, Race, and Mexicana/o Ethnicity in Diabetes Research" (2007); Karen-Sue Taussig's "Bovine Abominations: Genetic Culture and Politics in the Netherlands" (2004); and Corinne P. Hayden's "Gender, Genetics, and Generation: Reformulating Biology in Lesbian Kinship" (1995).

Cultural Anthropology has also published several articles on diaspora and diasporic identity, much of which builds on James Clifford's "Diasporas" (1994). Other examples include Brian Keith Axel's "The Context of Diaspora" (2004) and Jacqueline Nassy Brown's "Black Liverpool, Black America, and the Gendering of Diasporic Space" (1998).

Questions for Classroom Discussion

1. What are the different meanings that come to be attributed to blood-donation in this essay? How does blood-donation acquire these different meanings?

2. How do Indian understandings of blood-donation differ from your own conceptions of what blood-donation signifies? How are these different from how scientists in this essay understand the significance of blood-donation?

3. At the heart of this essay is a tension between blood as a gift and blood as a commodity. What is the significance of this tension? Can you think of other domains in which such a tension is visible in our everyday lives? To what effects?

4. What is Marcel Mauss' notion of the gift? What is Jonathan Parry's reading of Mauss? How does this essay extend these conceptions of gifting?

5. What are the different technological, historical, cultural, and political-economic conditions that the author highlights in drawing out the significance of blood-donation among Indian Gujaratis in Houston?

6. What are the different frames that the author draws out in her analysis? How do these frames interact with each other?

7. What is the understanding of "bioethics" that you gain from the perspective of this essay?

Related Readings

Hamilton, Jennifer

2008 "Revitalizing Difference in the HapMap: Race and Contemporary Human Genetic Variation Research." Journal of Law and Medical Ethics 36(3): 471-477.

Parry, Jonathan

1986 The Gift, the Indian gift, and the "Indian Gift." Man (n.s.) 21(3): 453-473.

Reardon, Jenny

2007 "Democratic Mis-haps: The Problem of Democratization in a Time of Biopolitics." Biosocieties 2(2): 239-256.

Reddy, Deepa

2008 "Caught in Collaboration." Collaborative Anthropology 1: 51-80. Author Manuscript available at: