Cadaver Donation as Ascetic Practice in India

Jacob Copeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores emerging ascetic orientations toward utility and death in India. It chronicles the activities of an innovative organization that campaigns for cadaver donations for the purposes of organ retrieval and dissection by trainee doctors. This would entail dispensing with cremation, a mode of cadaver disposal newly characterized as wasteful. In order to counter 'cremation-lack', the asceticism of cadaver donation is accentuated by the organization. The group thereby reinterprets classical Hinduism according to the demands of 'medical rationality'. This produces a novel 'donation theology' and additionally serves to demonstrate the 'asceticism' by which all voluntary donors of body material are obliged to abide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-126
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Analysis: The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006


  • Ascetisism
  • Body Donation
  • Cremation
  • Dissection
  • Gift of Life
  • Organ Donation
  • Renunciation


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