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Suitable substances: how biobanks (re)store biologicals


Bärnreuther, Sandra (2018). Suitable substances: how biobanks (re)store biologicals. New Genetics and Society, 37(4):319-337.

Abstract

Biobanks connected to In Vitro Fertilization hospitals do not merely function as repositories for biologicals. They also contribute to the restoration of reproductive substances to distinct social environments. Cases of commercial gamete donation in India often entail the infringement of social boundaries, as the socioeconomic backgrounds of gamete donors and recipients diverge. In a highly stratified society, biobanks perform “relational work” in order to nevertheless enable the transaction of substances. The selection of donors, the secluded laboratory, medical protocols, bureaucratic procedures, policies of anonymity, and rhetorical devices all reconfigure intimate material provided by specific donors into standardized products and relatable entities, thereby augmenting their economic value. The fact that relational work is not only performed on substances but also on suppliers and biodata sheets invites more general reflections about notions of “the living” or “the biological” in biobanks around the world.

Abstract

Biobanks connected to In Vitro Fertilization hospitals do not merely function as repositories for biologicals. They also contribute to the restoration of reproductive substances to distinct social environments. Cases of commercial gamete donation in India often entail the infringement of social boundaries, as the socioeconomic backgrounds of gamete donors and recipients diverge. In a highly stratified society, biobanks perform “relational work” in order to nevertheless enable the transaction of substances. The selection of donors, the secluded laboratory, medical protocols, bureaucratic procedures, policies of anonymity, and rhetorical devices all reconfigure intimate material provided by specific donors into standardized products and relatable entities, thereby augmenting their economic value. The fact that relational work is not only performed on substances but also on suppliers and biodata sheets invites more general reflections about notions of “the living” or “the biological” in biobanks around the world.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biobanks, biological substances, relational work, value, in vitro fertilization, India
Language:English
Date:November 2018
Deposited On:10 Jan 2019 15:52
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:03
Publisher:Taylor & Francis Open
ISSN:1469-9915
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/14636778.2018.1546572

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