Imagining transpecies kinship in xenotransplantation

Lesley A. Sharp


Xenotransplantation, as a highly experimental realm of science, is plagued by serious moral concerns: driven in part by the imperative to alleviate human suffering in a medical realm plagued by a scarcity in human organs, xeno experts must nevertheless quell public concern over the use of animals as ‘donor’ species, and the potential threats xenografting poses to human body integrity. Embedded within the language of xeno science is an intriguing grammar of kinship, one which reorders unsettling ideas of ‘monstrous’ science as a legitimate field intent on establishing interspecies compatibility. As this essay illustrates, a logic of kinship abounds within the realm of organ transfer more generally, yet it takes on special meanings within the rarified world of experimental xenotransplantation, where a range of bodies—be they animal or human—occupy highly vulnerable positions in the scientific search for transpecies integrity.


xenotransplantation, kinship, interspeciality, biotechnology, experimental science

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