Abstract

"Others' Organs" explores the particular limits on the mobility of rural agriculturalist South Indians, middle class Sri Lankan women, and young Indian and Pakistani men, whose needs for jobs become entwined with the commodification of "life." I argue that the material constraints on these workers, as well as the creation of excess body parts and lives through medical and transportation technologies, creates a system where Indian lives function to support other lives in the West, rather than their own. Using recent ethnographic material on these sites, I juxtapose these different forms of migrations and labor to see how certain bodies, body parts, and portions of life can be made surplus in the interests of the market. I argue that the selling of kidneys in South India and the exporting of feminized labor from Sri Lanka to the Gulf, can be explained in terms of supply and demand, and result from an interaction of changing economic structures in India, the gendering of labor, and India's postcolonial structural relationships to external centers of production. The excessiveness of certain parts, like the kidney, of particular family members, or even of certain arenas of existence, is produced in conversation with the production of need within the market, in this instance of the need for transplants and for hired labor within the home, creating the "need" to sell a kidney or to migrate. The second kidney and "spare" family members are actually necessities that are made surplus and then commodified.

Additional Information

ISSN
1053-1920
Launched on MUSE
2009-08-06
Open Access
No
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