Malmö University Publications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Transforming trash to treasure: Cultural ambiguity in foetal cell research
Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA). Lund University; University of Copenhagen, Denmark.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3571-4620
Lund University; Wallenberg Research Centre At Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
University of Gothenburg.
Lund University.
Show others and affiliations
2021 (English)In: Philosophy Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, E-ISSN 1747-5341, Vol. 16, article id 6Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Rich in different kind of potent cells, embryos are used in modern regenerative medicine and research. Neurobiologists today are pushing the boundaries for what can be done with embryos existing in the transitory margins of medicine. Therefore, there is a growing need to develop conceptual frameworks for interpreting the transformative cultural, biological and technical processes involving these aborted, donated and marginal embryos. This article is a contribution to this development of frameworks.

Methods

This article examines different emotional, cognitive and discursive strategies used by neurobiologists in a foetal cell transplantation trial in Parkinson’s disease research, using cells harvested from aborted embryos. Two interviews were analysed in the light of former observations in the processing laboratories, using the anthropologist Mary Douglas’s concept of pollution behaviour and the linguist, philosopher, psychoanalyst and feminist Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abjective to explain and make sense of the findings.

Results

The findings indicate that the labour performed by the researchers in the trial work involves transforming the foetal material practically, as well as culturally, from trash to treasure. The transformation process contains different phases, and in the interview material we observed that the foetal material or cells were considered objects, subjects or rejected as abject by the researchers handling them, depending on what phase of process or practice they referred to or had experience of. As demonstrated in the analysis, it is the human origin of the cell that makes it abjective and activates pollution discourse, when the researchers talk of their practice.

Conclusions

The marginal and ambiguous status of the embryo that emerges in the accounts turns the scientists handling foetal cells into liminal characters in modern medicine. Focusing on how practical as well as emotional and cultural strategies and rationalizations of the researchers emerge in interview accounts, this study adds insights on the rationale of practically procuring, transforming and utilizing the foetal material to the already existing studies focused on the donations. We also discuss why the use and refinement of a tissue, around which there is practical consensus but cultural ambiguity, deserves further investigation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2021. Vol. 16, article id 6
Keywords [en]
Foetal cells, Embryos, Abortion, Transplantation, Pollution behaviour, Ritual, Foetal waste, Abject, Embryonic ambiguity
National Category
Ethnology
Research subject
Health and society
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-45919DOI: 10.1186/s13010-021-00104-yISI: 000695820000001PubMedID: 34521443Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85114900348OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-45919DiVA, id: diva2:1594426
Available from: 2021-09-15 Created: 2021-09-15 Last updated: 2024-03-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cells in Culture, cells in Suspense.: Practices of Cultural Production in Foetal Cell Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cells in Culture, cells in Suspense.: Practices of Cultural Production in Foetal Cell Research
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative affliction to whichresearchers have long striven to find a cure. The human embryois a source of vital cells used in regenerative medicine, as well as apowerful symbol of life. Using foetal cells from aborted embryosfor transplantation to the brains of Parkinson patients is an avenuethat has been explored by neuroscientistson and off for the lastthirty years. This ethnological compilation thesis follows a nationalbranch of a foetal cell transplantation trial through successes as wellas challenges in processing foetal material into an effective, transplantablecell suspension. The cell suspension is conceptualized as abio-object, and explored as something that produces new knowledge,emotions and logistical and ethical negotiations. These products arebeyond the scope of the trial and biomedical research in general, butthey do nonetheless interact with and affect society at large.New biomedical inventions and forms of therapies transgress thelimits of life and death and the boundaries of individuals, as well asbetween species. Such cultural reordering challenges researchers,health care professionals as well patients on a daily basis. Exploringthe intersection between instruction and practice, nature and cultureas well as between science and ritual, this thesis contributes to abroader understanding of cultural and material conditions ofknowledge production. It also offers a methodological elaborationof how a diffractive approach may be fruitful in ethnographicresearch, when trying to reconcile epistemological differences incross-disciplinary endeavours.The thesis is itself a product of multidisciplinary cooperation, inwhich the researcher is affiliated with the milieus the Departmentof Art and Cultural Sciences and the Basal Ganglia DisordersLinnaeus Consortium (Bagadilico) of the Medical Faculty, bothat Lund University, as well as the Learning and Media Technology(LET) Studio at Gothenburg University.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund University Open Access, 2019. p. 210
Series
Lund Studies in Arts and Cultural Sciences, ISSN 2001-7529, E-ISSN 2001-7510 ; 21
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54390 (URN)978-91-983690-8-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
(English)
Opponent
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2023-01-10Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(969 kB)79 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 969 kBChecksum SHA-512
690da593b9f3443541245a73994801106754268f8d3ebb9b7733d83f3106e2616b48f7161d0bd9387e88086f2509345300da4f7de644b0c6ae0658553b31df86
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full textPubMedScopus

Authority records

Wiszmeg, AndréaHansson, Kristofer

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Wiszmeg, AndréaHansson, Kristofer
By organisation
Department of Social Work (SA)
In the same journal
Philosophy Ethics and Humanities in Medicine
Ethnology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 79 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

doi
pubmed
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
pubmed
urn-nbn
Total: 175 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf