Yasmin Zhuang-Mackie: “The medicalisation of race and culture: Inequalities and organ donation in the UK”

In Students by General Account

This PhD proposal outlines a project that aims to explore the dynamics around race and organ donation in the UK. Many recent campaigns produced by the NHS and other organisations have focused on increasing BAME participation in organ donation to address disproportionate numbers of BAME patients who die while awaiting life-saving organ transplants. The narratives in these campaigns invoke linkages between ideas around race, genetics, and disease, and often ignore the role that structural and institutional inequality has to play in producing inequalities for transplant patients.  The proposed research project aims to explore narratives around race and organ donation in the UK to address the following research question: how do discourses around race and organ donation in the UK evoke notions of generosity and kinship to shape BAME identities and sense of community? Through the lens of bio-cultures, this research will consider how forms of governance produce particular subjectivities in BAME individuals and communities. Focusing specifically on ideas around kinship and generosity allows for a consideration of relations between individuals, where existing research in this field focuses on the production of subjects or communities.  To answer the research question, this project will use discourse and content analysis and interviews. Key to this will be developing an understanding of the scientific narratives in the field of transplant medicine, as this is essential for exploring their social ramifications. Focus groups will also be conducted with BAME individuals to explore how the campaigns are received, and how individuals engage within biocultures.