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Title: Blood donation in India : an anthropological approach
Author: Copeman, J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in India (principally in Delhi, but also in Haryana, West Bengal, Mumbai and Chennai), this thesis explores Indian practices of medical blood donation. The backdrop to the thesis is recent legislation initiated by the Indian medical establishment seeking to stop blood banks accepting blood on the basis of payment to individual donors and also seeking to end the prevailing ad hoc family-based system of provision. The newly anonymous structures of voluntary blood donation, in which donors and recipients remain unknown to each other, have combined with the legal ban on remuneration to cause blood donation to resemble more than ever before classical instances of the non-reciprocal Indian category of dan (gift, donation). At the same time, my thesis shows that blood donation (rakt-dan) plays a critical role in the wider reform of dan so that it comes to serve the ends of social utility. Even as blood bank professionals and spiritual organisations undertake reformist innovations, however, much is retained of the structures and aims of ‘classical’ giving, which far from being ‘lost’, are largely retained within a flexible dan that comes to serve several different purposes at once. The reform of dan is indivisible from the reform of Indian religion, and the thesis accordingly emphasises the role of blood donation in the constitution of reformist ‘religions of utility’, with the giving dynamics that conventionally proceed upon the occasions of mortuary rituals, death anniversaries and even marriages being re-channelled into ‘useful’ blood donation rather than other ‘useless’ forms of giving (e.g. food for the deceased).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available