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Local Virtue and Global Vision: The Practice of Eye donation in contemporary Sri Lanka

Simpson, R.

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A death radically rearranges kinship, debt, obligation, and responsibility, and it also triggers prescribed routines for mourning and material disposal of the corpse. It is into this complex and fraught unfolding of events that the rhetorics of corporeal charity must be introduced and acted upon. In this article, I describe practices and practicalities of cornea donation in Sri Lanka in relation to ideas about merit and the nation state. In contrast with discourses about ‘shortages’, corneas, which are often elsewhere a particularly difficult tissue to elicit because of their links to the eye, appearance, identity, and inner consciousness (Hayward and Madill 2003), are in Sri Lanka not in short supply. Nor is religion an impediment to donation but rather, the day-to-day practice of Sinhala Buddhists provides an extremely compelling affective, moral, and political justification when it comes to pledging to donate. The article illustrates how and why this is the case.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 7, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 23, 2017
Publication Date Oct 23, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2016
Journal Medicine Anthropology Theory
Print ISSN 2405-691X
Publisher Edinburgh University Library
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 4
Pages 150-170
Public URL
Publisher URL


Accepted Journal Article (307 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© Bob Simpson, 2017. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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