Sherine Hamdy

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Science, Technology, and Society] One of the best things about co-hosting New Books in STS is the opportunity to discover books like this one. Sherine Hamdy has given us something special in Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt (University of California Press, 2012). Framed as a study of the history and ethnography of organ transplantation in modern Egypt, Hamdy’s work uses a wide range of sources to encourage readers to think in a much more nuanced way about categories that we tend to generalize: bodies, family, religion, Islam, the idea of a “black market.” The story ranges from printed texts and interviews, to television programs, participant observation in classes on Islamic jurisprudence, and fieldwork in hospitals, private clinics, and other medical institutions. At every stage, Hamdy offers accounts (often quite moving) of individuals who are in the process of weighing the risks and benefits of transplantation, reminding us that none of these individuals exists outside of a complex web of social, political, familial, and other relationships. It is an inspiring book that ought to be read and assigned widely.

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