Abstract

In the proposed research project, I want to show how blood banking, both public and private can be imagined in specific medical, social and biographical contexts. Ethnographic research specifically focused on Chennai, South India will detail the workings of these banks by focusing on Thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder the banks majorly cater to by storing and providing cord blood for blood stem cell transplants. Also, the Tamil culture is uniquely placed with its kinship structure and marriage preferences where the need to hold property within the family and cross cousin marriages have led to a rise in genetic blood disorders, Thalassemia being one. So, have marriage preferences and property holdings within kin led to an increase in number of Thalassemia cases and has this pushed for a rise in private and public cord blood banking in Chennai? Given this problematique, this proposal is divided into two parts: the first part of the proposal provides a brief history of cord blood banking and situates Thalassemia in Chennai as the site of study and the second part of the project is aimed at discussing cord blood banking, reproduction and placenta handling under the aegis of care in Tamil culture and bio medicine. Key words: Stem cell, cord blood banking, public & private, thalassemia, reproduction, placenta, kinship, symbolism, blood

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