Tracing the Social Life of Blood in Penang, Malaysia

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Blood is in many cultures a core symbol of kinship, ethnicity and religion, and it is also a scientific or medical object of investigation, and a valued source of medical treatment. If the idea that scientific knowledge is of a different order from kinship knowledge seems paradigmatic of modernity, what kinds of work go into creating such boundaries and separations? Are there areas in which we can detect a seepage between one kind of knowledge and another? Drawing on fieldwork in biomedical settings in Malaysia as well as more general comparative discussions, this article explores some of the pathways along which blood travels between areas of knowledge and practice that we think of as “scientific” or “biomedical”, and those that are apparently more “social” – such as kinship, ethnicity or religion – as well as some possible implications of these connections.

Translated title of the contributionTracing the Social Life of Blood in Penang, Malaysia
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)58-73
Number of pages16
Issue number2011/1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • blood
  • biomedicine
  • kinship
  • knowledge
  • Malaysia


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