Accepting/Rejecting: China’s Discursive Reconfiguration of Zoe for a New Era in Organ Donation

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Department of English, NTNU


In the Chinese state’s attempt to rectify its organ shortage, an openly acknowledged problem nationwide, it must harness the body as a source of life. Whose bodies, exactly, form the crux of this paper, and it is here that Giorgio Agamben’s work is useful for a discussion that expands beyond a biopolitics centered on disciplines and technologies of power. Drawing upon articles in the U.S. and Chinese media, this paper analyzes the disparate logics inherent in media coverage following the establishment of China’s voluntary organ donation system in 2010. Though conceived at a great distance, Agamben’s bios/zoe dialectic operates as a fitting tool in the examination of an emergent discourse that is evolving in China, one that harnesses a rhetoric centered on value(s), scientific rationalism and charity in order to re‐define zoe(s) and reinforce the legitimacy of the state.