Back to Events of Saturday 25th May 2024


05:15 PM

Banking On Cord Blood: Decoding Amulets & Canisters in Chennai (ONLINE ONLY)

Medical Anthropology Forum

Amishi Panwar, Health Care Research, Bristol Medical School,
University of Bristol (England)

In India, umbilical cord blood stem cells are used to treat Thalassemia, Leukemias and related blood disorders, whereas stem cell treatment for all other disorders is classified under research and requires registration of a clinical trial with the governing body in India. The doctoral thesis draws on fifteen months of ethnographic immersion and conversations with haematologists, gynaecologists, lab technicians and people opting for banking in Chennai, South India. Public banking, characterized by anonymous donation and stem cell transplantation, is a curious but preferred form of insurance given the knowledge that there is a 0.04 per cent chance of using one's own cord blood in the future. On the other hand, private banks depend heavily on a proprietor-client relationship and earlier provided banking and usage of one's own cord blood only. A hybrid of the public-private model called 'community banking' is where a group of people becomes a private pool of users, who pay for, and bank their children's cord blood. And traditionally, pregnant mothers are encouraged to store dried cord tissue in amulets, contents of which are ingested when the need arises. Moreover, the prevalence of cross cousin marriages in South India has led to inherited blood disorders like Thalassemia, the cure for which is a blood stem cell transplant from cord blood banked in canisters. In the quest for finding an exact match for an individual, the HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) becomes the node at the center of community genetics and language-specific donor registries.
The ever-morphing nature of the cord blood market in response to the developing science and commerce of stem cells leads to the question: What exactly does 'banking on' cord blood entail: Is it 'medicine' stored in the present: open to usage, manipulations and transformations or 'medicine' shored up for a future, the viability of which remains uncertain?

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Südasien-Institut, Abteilung Ethnologie

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Vasiliki Kosmidis

Alle Termine der Veranstaltung 'Medical Anthropology Forum - Sommersemester 2022':

The forum as a public event was designed to be a space where senior students and researchers could gather with MAHASSA students and other interested parties to discover and discuss current themes in medical anthropology. Medical anthropology raises important intellectual and scientific questions about human suffering and wellbeing, and about the human body in its relation to culture and society. This is a “survey course,” meaning that we will survey the most important topics in this field, including illness and suffering, ethnomedicine, ritual healing, the anthropology of the body, mental health and culture, medical pluralism and hegemony, critical medical anthropology, science technology and medicine studies, and others.

Tuesday 24th May 2022, 05:15 PM

The Politics of Ecological Emotions: Comparing Anxiety and Anger as Responses to the Climate Crisis in Britain (ONLINE ONLY)

Dr. Bridget Bradley, University of St Andrews (UK), Department of Social Anthropology

Tuesday 31st May 2022, 05:15 PM

Eating for the Nation – The Biopolitics of Consumerism in Contemporary India

Dr. Borayin Larios, University of Vienna (Austria), Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies

Tuesday 07th June 2022, 05:15 PM

Animal Bodies, Divine Presences and the Interpretation of Control in Contemporary Singapore

Stuart Earle Strange, Department of Anthropology, Yale-NUS College (Singapore)

Tuesday 28th June 2022, 05:15 PM

Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis in a Time of Covid: ‘The Expropriation of Health’ (ONLINE ONLY)

Babette Babich, Department of Philosophy, Fordham University, New York (USA) & Department of Philosophy, Religions and Liberal Arts, University of Winchester (UK)

Tuesday 19th July 2022, 05:15 PM

Banking On Cord Blood: Decoding Amulets & Canisters in Chennai (ONLINE ONLY)

Amishi Panwar, Health Care Research, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol (England)

Tuesday 02nd August 2022, 05:15 PM

The Coming Crisis: Antibiotic Resistance and the (Un-)Making of Efficacy: (ONLINE ONLY)

Purbasha Mazumdar, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute, Geneva