- Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and
- Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences
- Medical Anthropology; Bioethics; Organ Trafficking and Transplant; Medical Tourism; New Medical Technologies; Social Justice; Human Rights; Post-Tsunami Health; Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Canada.
MONIR MONIRUZZAMAN (Ph.D. U of Toronto; MA U of Western Ontario) is an assistant professor jointly appointed in the Department of Anthropology and Center for Ethics and Humanities in Life Sciences at Michigan State University. His doctoral research examines the ethics of the organ bazaar, particularly the experiences of kidney sellers living in Bangladesh. Based on 15 months of challenging fieldwork, his doctoral dissertation (Living Cadavers in Bangladesh: Ethics of the Human Organ Bazaar) raises serious ethical questions such as these: 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, promotes a system for prolonging the lives of the “haves” over the lives of the “have nots.”
Exploring the deeply moving narratives of kidney sellers, Monir’s ethnography reveals how organ buyers (both recipients and brokers) deceived Bangladeshi poor into selling their kidneys. In the end, these sellers were brutally deprived, 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’s research concludes that organ commodification constitutes serious bioviolence against the poor, at the terrible cost of harm and suffering to them. Examining the organ market proposition, he argues that an organ market is not an Aladdin’s lamp that would repair all the existing economic inequality and political disparities; rather, it would enforce profound bioviolence against the poor in order to prolong the lives of the affluent few.
Monir’s research has published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly. His findings have presented to the US Congress Human Rights Commission and the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee. Part of his ethnography has been transformed into a successful art installation piece, which was exhibited in a Toronto art gallery.
In press, “Domestic Organ Trafficking: Between Biosecurity and Bioviolence” in Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability. Nancy Chen and Lesley Sharp Eds. Santa Fe: School of American Research.
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 in New Directions in Critical Marketing Studies. Mark Tadajewski and Robert Cluley Eds. (Vol. 1-4). London: Sage, 2013. pp. 335-358. Print.]
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.
2007 “Underground Fieldwork with 33 Kidney Sellers in Bangladesh: Issues of Access and Methods” in Comparative Program on Health and Society Working Paper Series 2006–2007, Jillian Clare Cohen and Bianca Seaton Eds. pp. 83–108, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.
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.
IN THE NEWS
Monir’s work has garnered major media attention; more than 50 interviews have appeared in the ABC, Atlantic, BBC, CBC, Discover Magazine, Global Post, Globe and Mail, and Voice of America amongst others. The selected ones are in the following:
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
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/
Live Science, March 22, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/19237-illegal-kidney-organ-trade.html
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