Kidney Hunters – Trafficking With Organ Traffickers

25. 4. 2016 from 19:00 to 21:00

Nancy Scheper-Hughes , an American anthropologist, will describe the extent and international networks of human trafficking for organs today. 

Who are the primary players? How do organs markets function? Who are the key players? How are the relations between organized crime and transplant medicine structured? Whose needs are privileged? What invisible sacrifices are demanded? What public secrets’ and  ‘noble lies’ are concealed in the conventional transplant rhetoric of gifting organs, saving lives, flexible bodies, altruism, ‘demand’ and human needs? What motivates a surgeon to enter an illicit human trafficking scheme that pits stranded kidney patients in one country against the appalling ‘bio-availability’ of poor people from demolished agricultural villages in Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, from the favelas of Brazil and stevedores from the watery barrios of Manila?  Are all kidney sellers victims? Are all kidney buyers innocent? What kind of moral worlds do kidney hunters, organs traffickers and their clients inhabit? Why is human trafficking for organs a protected crime?

Nancy Scheper-Hughes will introduce some poignant scenes from the organs trade to illustrate the very different forms, practices, and emotions it encompasses. She wants to recapture the ‘strangeness’ of a routine medical procedure – kidney transplant – that has become increasingly dependent on patient claims and rights to the healthy bodies of marginalized ‘others’. One of the many ironies associated with the Organs Watch project, a project co-founded and director by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, was its early funding through George Soros’ fortune accumulated by his own global ‘trafficking’ in money-markets that had destabilized so many of the economies where the traffic in humans and in organs is common, especially in rural parts of Central and Eastern Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Another irony is that the knowledge from this long-term research is being transformed – flesh into words – into a book that is as much a commodity as the pink kidneys snatched from the poor.

“As my Brazilian favela friends often reminded me, ‘Nancy, no one is innocent’. I would add, least of all the anthropologist herself. In my face-to-face encounters with kidney brokers and kidney hunters, outlaw surgeons, kidney buyers and sellers, I had become a kidney hunter of sorts, another accomplice to the crime” says Nancy Scheper-Hughes.


Nancy Scheper-Hughes is a professor of Anthropology and director of the program in Medical Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. She is known for her writing on the anthropology of the body, hunger, illness, medicine, psychiatry, madness, social suffering, violence and genocide. In 2009 her investigation of an international ring of organ sellers based in New York, New Jersey and Israel led to a number of arrests by the FBI.

The event is being held within the scope of the public programme to The Soul of Money exhibition.

The lecture will be held in English language.

Reservation required:

Admission 60 CZK / 40 CZK.

Free admission for DOX Friends.

DOX Prague, a.s