CareNet Seminar: “No heroics, please: mapping deceased donation practices in a Catalan hospital” by Sara Bea (University of Edinburgh)



This talk will present an in-depth ethnographic mapping of deceased donation in a Catalan hospital. A unique site in terms of leading-edge technoscientific practices, high rates of donation and its consolidated specialised team of transplant coordinators (TCs). Dr Bea situates donation as an embedded medical practice and traces the practicalities and specificities of making donation a possibility at the hospital. The empirical accounts offer a distinctive contribution that complements and challenges existing social sciences literature about donation. The latter have predominantly focused on donation as a controversial practice through highlighting the emotional experiences of donors’ families and individual medical practitioners involved.

This empirical investigation mobilises, and further develops, STS material semiotics tools to provide an account of donation enacted as both procurement and healthcare. Ethnographic insights illustrate the shifting processes of mutual inclusion and exclusion that underpin the trajectory of integrating donation as a routinized hospital practice, along the recurring set of enduring tensions.


Sala Tony Bates del edificio UOC
Av. Tibidabo, 39-43
08035 Barcelona


07/02/2018 12.30h


Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Grupo de investigación CareNet del IN3


Sala Tony Bates del edificio UOC

Dr Bea’s work contributes to current policy debates in the UK that propose to tackle the national problem of low donation rates with a legislative move to an opt-out system for donation. It offers robust empirical evidence to contest the dominant organ shortage problematisation that is reduced to the legal polarity of either opting in or out of donation. She suggests that questions about increasing donation rates cannot be restricted to the domain of individual choice as this excludes the situated medical practices that enable the choice of donation in the first place.
Sara Bea recently completed her PhD in STS at the University of Edinburgh. Her ethnographic research focuses on medical practices of deceased donation in a Catalan hospital. She is interested in material semiotics, theorising the body, ethicalities in practice and inventive methods. She was a member of the organising and scientific committee for the Lisbon conference ‘Lost in Translation? People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts across Boundaries’.