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Violence, Non-Violence, and Blood Donation in India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-296
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Abstract

This article explores the relationship between medical blood donation and concepts and enactments of violence and non-violence in India. The focus is on those north Indian devotional orders in the sant tradition whose devotees donate their blood in large quantities for transfusion. These orders profess a commitment to the Hindu Brahmanic and reformist tenet of non-violence (ahimsa). At the same time, their attempts to donate blood for Indian army personnel shows how blood donation can be a means to engage in military affairs ‘from a distance’. This article also demonstrates the ways in which different modes of sacrifice surface in blood donation ideology and practice. Arguing that blood donation mediates between violence and non-violence in the subcontinent, the article concludes with a related set of points concerning the ambiguous relationship between caste concepts and blood donation.

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