Blood Work

Blood Work

Life and Laboratories in Penang

What is blood? How can we account for its enormous range of meanings and its extraordinary symbolic power? In Blood Work Janet Carsten traces the multiple meanings of blood as it moves from donors to labs, hospitals, and patients in Penang, Malaysia. She tells the stories of blood donors, their varied motivations, and the paperwork, payment, and other bureaucratic processes involved in blood donation, tracking the interpersonal relations between lab staff and revealing how their work with blood reflects the social, cultural, and political dynamics of modern Malaysia. Carsten follows hospital workers into factories and community halls on blood drives and brings readers into the operating theater as a machine circulates a bypass patient's blood. Throughout, she foregrounds blood's symbolic power, uncovering the processes that make the hospital, the blood bank, the lab, and science itself work. In this way, blood becomes a privileged lens for understanding the entanglements of modern life.
  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • The Public Life of Blood I: Donation in the News
    • One. Blood Donation
  • The Public Life of Blood II: Newspapers & Laboratory Life
    • Two. Lab Spaces and People: Categories and Distinctions at Work
  • The Public Life of Blood III: Elections & Their Aftermath
    • Three. The Work of the Labs
  • The Public Life of Blood IV: Medical, Supernatural, & Moral Matters
    • Four. “Work Is Just Part of the Job”: Ghosts, Food, and Relatedness in the Labs
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
    • A
    • B
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • H
    • I
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • P
    • R
    • S
    • T
    • U
    • V
    • W
    • Y



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