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The Body of the Enemy: Organ Theft During Wartime, Conflict and Political Chaos

Monday, April 4, 2011
4:00 AM
411 West Hall

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California, Berkeley, will address a public secret, the plunder of the bodies of the 'enemy' or the ‘terrorist’ for organs and tissues during times of conflict, warfare (and natural disasters) as an unrecognized crime against humanity. Because allegations of organ theft are so often confounded with urban legends and rumors, they are often quickly dismissed and the abuses allowed to continue. I will address three cases of criminal tissue and organs trafficking in which I have provided evidence to authorities: 1) Medical abuses and bio-piracy of the bodies of inmates at the National Asylum for the Mentally Deficient, Colonia Montes de Oca during and after the Argentine “Dirty War”; 2) Tissue and organ theft and stockpiling following autopsies of dead bodies, including of Palestinian ‘terrorists’ at Abu Kabir, the National Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv beginning in the late 1980s; and 3) Kidnapping, murder and organs theft of Serbian ‘enemies’ following the Kosovo war (1999-2000) linked to more recent allegations of transplant trafficking at the Medicus Clinic in Pristina ( 2007-2008). How do we -- as critically applied anthropologists -- think through the unspeakable and in solidarity with the plundered and the existentially shaken?

Reception to follow.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes is the Chancellor's Professor in Medical Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley and the director of Organs Watch.

Cosponsored by the Colloquium Series in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology and the Center for International & Comparative Studies (CICS)