The haunting temporalities of transplantation

McCormack, Donna (2021) The haunting temporalities of transplantation. Body and Society, 27 (2). 58–82. ISSN 1460-3632 (

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This article examines the temporality of organ transplantation with a focus on memoirs where the recipient has received an organ from a deceased donor. I argue that death constitutes life. That is, this absent presence – that the organ is materially present but the person is dead and therefore absent – is the foundation for rethinking relationality as constituted through the haunting presence of those who remain central to the continuity of life but who are not alive in any strict definition of the term. This article is therefore attentive to the various meanings of haunting, drawing on queer theory to show how narratives of haunting are derealised experiences and thus a struggle for epistemological authority over specifically transplantation and relationality more broadly. It draws out how these epistemological challenges reimagine ontology as a haunted experience, and thus an intimate tie between the living and the unknown – and somewhat present – dead.


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