Boardroom, New Law School Building
Tuesday December 3 2013

The world is currently experiencing numerous moral, ethical and regulatory crises relating to access and control of human tissue. Developments in science, medicine, computing and biotechnology have led to the collapse of previous distinctions between public and private science and between commerce and academia, and have challenged established socio-cultural, biomedical, ethical and legal understandings of the body and of human tissue. Evidence of this disruption is manifest in many spheres of human activity including in healthcare, science, education, law, art, commerce and history. In the last decade alone, controversies over ownership of genes, access to reproductive materials, biotourism, biobanking, stem cell therapies, the entrenched shortage of transplantable organs and tissues, property rights over human tissue, the definition of death, the repatriation of indigenous remains, xenotransplantation, biomarkets and bioeconomies (black and white), anatomy school practices, and non-consensual forensic experimentation on corpses, reveal both the wide-reaching implications of changes in the way that we regard the human body, organs and tissues and our general inability to resolve these challenges through existing laws, policies and practices. As a consequence, persistent conflict has become, in many ways, a marker of the new ‘biosociety’.

The NBOT is a cross-disciplinary SyReNS Network at the University of Sydney, composed of academics working on tissues, bodies and organs from diverse perspectives, including medicine, law, science, sociology, bioethics, criminology, public health, history, politics, anthropology, archaeology, philosophy and gender studies. The Network, which includes a number of members from the Biopolitics of Science Network, aims to engage with important ethical, legal and social issues by both in developing cross-disciplinary analysis, and by contributing concretely to public policy and debate.

The inaugural workshop developed connections within the Network and more broadly into the international community. It featured four presentations from members of the Network and two visiting international Scholars working in the field. The presentations and lively discussions covered: changing modes of reasoning and authority in the approach to cadavers and organ procurement practices in Denmark; the social and ethical implications of identifying and naming fallen soldiers through DNA-based identification – particularly as a relational practice of care; time and the political economy of everyday life (including sexual/ reproductive relations) in newly commercialised non-therapeutic human egg freezing technologies; and, a potential legal approach to legitimating blood cord banking activities while incorporating important notions of stewardship or custodianship.




11.45 am – 12.00 pm Welcome and Introductions  
12.00 pm – 1 pm Professor Klaus Hoeyer
University of Copenhagen
The Politics of Bare Flesh
1.00 pm – 20 pm Lunch  
2.00 pm – 3.00 pm Professor Catherine Walldby
University of Sydney
‘Banking Time’: Egg Freezing, Internet Dating and the Negotiation of Future Romance
3.00 pm – 4.00 pm Professor Jackie Leach Scully
Newcastle University (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Putting Names to Remains: Bodies, Identity and DNA-based Identification
4.00 pm – 4.30 pm Afternoon Tea  
4.30 pm – 5.30 pm Professor Cameron Stewart
University of Sydney
Public Umbilical Cord Blood Banking and Charitable Trusts