Hematopolitics Symposium

Hematopolitics International Symposium: The Politics of Blood, Body and Health, 23-24 May 2022, University of Leeds

Keynote Speaker: Professor Jacob Copeman (University of Santiago de Compostela)

Call for papers now open, deadline for abstracts: 10 April 2022

Blood occupies a special place in human history for the strong associations and deep sentiments it provokes about identity, kinship, vitality, danger and sacrifice. The biomedical and biotechnological utility of blood, from transfusion to genomics, further complicates its valence and the relations formed around its flow across bodily and social boundaries. This international symposium seeks to stimulate conversations around blood’s material and affective potentialities in reconfiguring sociopolitical orders and relationalities from a range of fields, including but not limited to: sociocultural and medical anthropology, sociology of health, medical humanities, Science and Technology Studies. We are particularly interested in papers that examine blood’s potential in regenerating or dissolving forms of othering and inequality through discourses and practices around the body and health.

Some key questions we seek to explore are:

  • How has blood fuelled imaginaries of nationhood and race/ethnicity, merging long-standing symbolisms and modern knowledge of eugenics, transfusion and hygiene in colonial and biopolitical programmes?
  • How does blood become a medium through which claims to citizenship and morally charged arguments about race/ethnicity, class/caste, and gender/sex/sexuality are made and contested?
  • How does the commercialisation of blood and blood products rely on and deepen socioeconomic and health disparities?
  • How does blood’s own working materialise or undermine colonial legacies, biopolitical calculations and economic interests?
  • How do the biological and the social coalesce and mutate in all these instances to remake bodies, social relations, ethical regimes and sociopolitical orders?

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, othering and inequalities in:

  • gift relations and exclusion around donation and transfusion/transplant of blood (components, cord blood, bone marrow, plasma derivatives, etc.)
  • blood donation and claims to citizenship and national belonging
  • infrastructures and governance of blood banking
  • political economy of blood and blood products
  • racialised discourses of blood types/groups
  • notions of ‘good’, ‘pure’, or ‘bad blood’
  • stigma associated with blood-borne diseases, inherited blood disorders, etc.
  • politics and aesthetics of blood in art, literature, media, social movements, etc.

Please submit your 200-300 word abstract and a brief bio via the following survey link by 10 April 2022.


We hope the paper presentations (20 mins) lead to contributions to a special issue that will arise from the symposium. For any enquires or concerns, you can contact Dr Jieun Kim (j.e.kim@leeds.ac.uk) and Beth Lavery (b.lavery@leeds.ac.uk).

A small number of bursaries will be available for postgraduate and early career researchers and independent scholars to cover domestic travel expenses. We also accept online presentations.