Gathering Points: Blood Donation and the Scenography of “National Integration"

Jacob Copeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores nationalist interpretations of blood donation activity, examining how some Indians read integrative messages into the practical procedures through which blood is donated and distributed. The first post-Independence Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, proclaimed the need for `national integration' as a bulwark against a myriad of linguistic, caste and ethnic agitations that threatened to disrupt the unity of the newly formed nation-state. This article shows that a striking manifestation of the Nehruvian ideology of national integration possesses a compelling presence in the Indian blood donation milieu. Scholars of India have long been preoccupied with documenting attempts by the Hindu right to redefine the nation in exclusively Hindu, anti-Nehruvian terms. Questioning the prevailing assumption that the only thing that counts politically in India today is the debunking or overriding of Nehruvian ideals of the secular inclusive nation, this article rehabilitates Nehruvianism as an important ethnographic subject. In so doing it demonstrates the roles of anonymity, enumeration and an array of technical and imaginative gathering points in the formation of the `difference-traversing gift'. The article also highlights ways in which technology may be employed for the imagining of social diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-99
Number of pages29
JournalBody and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Anonymity
  • Blood donation
  • Enumeration
  • India
  • Nationalism
  • Nehru
  • Transfusion


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