This conference will explore the history of the idea that the body is sacred in Western medicine, as well as how this idea is played out around questions of life and death. Ritual and religious modifications to, and limitations of what may be done to, the body may raise cross-cultural issues of great complexity within medicine. These issues will be explored as problems as case studies arising in hospital and medical settings. The conference will explore the ways in which medicine organises the moral and the immoral, the sacred and the profane; how it mediates cultural concepts of the sacred - of the body, of blood, and of life and death; and it will examine the consequences for negotiating the sacred cross-culturally when different medical cosmologies come into conflict. In addition to euthanasia, abortion, and organ transplants, the conference will seek to address on the human genome project, cloning, sex selection, foetal tissue for stem cell research, xenotransplantation (transplanting a foreign tissue into another species), cyborgism (the use of technology to replace, restore, or simulate some form of lost physical capability), organ trafficking and theft, hermaphrodites and intersexing (a third category of gender), surrogacy, technological death and brain death, and so forth. Papers delving into the artistic and literary legacies that illuminate the boundaries of what we consider acceptablemedical intervention (for example, Vitruvian Man, Frankenstein, In His Image: The Cloning of a Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or American Pie) are also warmly welcomed.
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