State of Blood: Transfusion Science, the Urban Poor, and the Making of the Modern Donor in Iran


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Near Eastern Studies


This project traces the emergence of blood transfusion technology in modern Iran. Until the early 1970s, an informal market supplied hospitals with blood products. Forced by poverty, professional blood-sellers sold their blood to dealers who managed the market. However, altruistic donations gradually substituted blood-selling. Drawing on archival research and oral history interviews conducted in Iran, State of Blood argues that the technology of transfusion, by appropriating the idea of kinship and intimacy and utilizing the long-lived political and religious discourses of blood, mediated and transformed not only the relationship between the state and the citizens but also the relationship among citizens whose ties to the life of strangers shaped the meaning of citizenship in modern Iran. This dissertation takes transfusable blood, a source of meaning and information, as its unit of analysis to demonstrate how ordinary Iranians created their own concepts of selfhood, the other, and donorship.