Monir Moniruzzaman

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences

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Curriculum vitae

Research Interests

  • Medical Anthropology; Global Health; Organ Trafficking; Biotechnology; Bioethics; Medical Tourism; Globalization; Embodiment; Bodily Inequality; Social Justice; Human Rights; Activism; International Development; Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Canada, and United States.

Biographical Info

Monir Moniruzzaman (Ph.D. U of Toronto; MA U of Western Ontario) is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and Center for Ethics and Humanities in Life Sciences at Michigan State University. Monir’s research centers on human organ trafficking, focusing on the bioviolence against malnourished bodies of marginalized populations. Based on challenging ethnographic fieldwork, spanning more than a decade, his research raises serious ethical questions, such as: Is it right to purchase an organ, even if the organ sought provides longevity? Is the sale of one’s organ a justifiable means of fighting poverty? Universal human rights and social justice issues are also relevant here, as modern medicine, such as organ transplantation, sometimes justifies a system for prolonging the lives of the “haves” over the lives of the “have nots.”

Collecting the deeply moving narratives from kidney and liver sellers, Monir’s doctoral dissertation (Living Cadavers in Bangladesh: Ethics of the Human Organ Bazaar) reveals how organ buyers (both recipients and brokers) deceived Bangladeshi poor into selling their body parts. In the end, these sellers were only partially paid, and their suffering was extreme. In the post-vending period, sellers’ health, economic, and social conditions significantly deteriorated, yet none of them received the promised post-operative care—not even one appointment. Monir concludes that organ commerce constitutes profound bioviolence against the poor, at the cost of severe suffering to them.

Monir’s research has been recognized within the academic community and broader publics. His articles have been published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, American Journal of Bioethics, and by the School of American research. He has testified before the US Congress Human Rights Commission and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His research has garnered major media attention; more than 70 interviews have published in the Atlantic, Global Post, Global and Mail, and Michigan State University President’s Annual Report, as well as aired on the BBC, ABC, CBC, and NPR. His research has been transformed into a multi-media art installation piece, which was exhibited in a Toronto art gallery.

Monir was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley (declined for faculty position at Michigan State University), two doctoral fellowships at MUNK Center for International Studies and Healthcare, Technology, and Place at the University of Toronto, as well as served as a Co-PI of a $13.5M grant successfully awarded to the Canadian National Transplant Research Program at the University of Edmonton.

Prior joining to Michigan State University, Monir served as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Bangladesh. At Michigan State University, he is teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, titled, The End of the Body: Biotechnology, Violence, and Ethics; Overview of Medical Anthropology; Culture Health and Illness; and Socio-Cultural Diversity at the College of Social Sciences, as well as Social Context in Clinical Bioethics at the College of Human Medicine.

Publications

2014. Domestic Organ Trafficking: Between Biosecurity and Bioviolence. In Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability. Nancy Chen and Lesley Sharp Eds. pp. 195-215. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research.

2014. Regulated Organ Market: Reality Verses Rhetoric. The American Journal of Bioethics 14(10): 33-35.

2013. Parts and Labor: The Commodification of Human Body. In A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism. Ato Quayson and Girish Daswani Eds. pp. 455-472. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

2013. Human Body Parts for Sale in the Neoliberal State. The Journal of Social Studies 137: 1-22.

2012. “Living Cadavers” in Bangladesh: Bioviolence in the Human Organ Bazaar. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 26(1): 69-91.                                              Reprint. 2013. New Directions in Critical Marketing Studies. Mark Tadajewski and Robert Cluley Eds. Vol. 4. pp. 335-358. London: Sage.

2010. “The Ripples Changed Our Lives”: Health in Post-Tsunami Thailand. Disaster Prevention and Management 19(3): 333-344.

2008. Distance Fieldwork in Anthropology. Vis-à-Vis: Explorations in Anthropology 8(1): 18-28.

2006. Moving Human and Non-Human Body Parts: A Review of the History of Organ and Tissue Transplant. The Eastern Anthropologists 59(2): 179-193.

Book Reviews:

2014. The Transplant Imaginary: Mechanical Hearts, Animal Parts, and Moral Thinking in Highly Experimental Science (Lesley Sharp). Global Public Health 9(10): 1252-1253.

2013. Everyday Ethics of Organ Transplants. Review of Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt (Sherine Hamdy). Current Anthropology 54(6): 772-773.

2012. New Organs Within Us: Transplants and the Moral Economy (Aslihan Sanal). American Ethnologist 39(3): 638-639.

In the News:

More than 70 interviews covering Monir’s research have published in print, online, radio, and television. Some of them were translated into several languages and reappeared on hundreds of websites, blogs, and local newspapers. The recent ones are in the following:

Al Jazeera, December 26, 2014. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/26/bangladesh-organtrafficking.html

ABC Australia, May 16, 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/bangladeshs-organ-trade/5455658

BBC Radio, October 29, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03fdjwb

BBC News, October 27, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24128096

International Business Times, October 30, 2013. http://www.ibtimes.com/kidneys-livers-sale-unintended-dark-consequences-microcredit-loans-bangladesh-1447824

The Engaged Scholar 2013, vol. 8, pp. 13-14. http://engagedscholar.msu.edu/magazine/volume8/documents/TES810-29-13final.pdf

NPR WKAR, April 26, 2013. http://wkar.org/post/msu-researcher-enters-murky-world-international-organ-trafficking

Michigan State University President’s Report 2012. http://report.president.msu.edu/360/bangladesh/

The Atlantic, March 23, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/living-cadavers-how-the-poor-are-tricked-into-selling-their-organs/254570/

Live Science, March 22, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/19237-illegal-kidney-organ-trade.html

ABC News, March 16, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/organs-sale-living-cadavers-sell-kidneys-bangladesh-cash/story?id=15930876

Global Post, October 27, 2011. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/111024/bangladesh-dhaka-organ-trade-microfinance-grameen

Photo by Kurt Stepnitz