• Elizabeth T. Hurren


This book is 125,000 words long. By taking the spine in your hand and thumbing the pages the scale of the human stories can be visualised in the flickering black and white print. Each word represents an equivalent corpse sold in Victorian times. This was the scale of the anatomy trade found in many forgotten entries in burial books or dissection registers. A lot more still need to be added to the 17,500 lives recovered for posterity in the four chosen case studies. This human face of an economy of supply, wrote one social commentator in the British Medical Journal in 1870, was memorable:

Coherent in statistical despairs

With such a total of distracted life…

To see it put down in figures on a page —

Plain, silent, clear, as God sees through the earth

The scene of all the graves; that’s terrible

For one who is not God, and cannot right

The wrong he looks on.1


Engagement Work Medical Tourism Abject Poverty Dissection Room Human Story 
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  1. 2.
    M. J. Cherry (2005), Kidneys for Sale by Owner: Human Organs, Transplantation and the Market (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press).Google Scholar
  2. M. Goodwin (2006), Black Markets: The Supply and Demand of Body Parts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  3. C. Walby and R. Mitchell (2006), Tissue Economies: Blood, Organs and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism (New York: Duke University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. D. Dickenson (2009), Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit — The Economy Fuelled by Flesh and Blood (London: One World Publications).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    A. Cheney (2006), Body Brokers: Inside America’s Underground Trade in Human Remains (New York: Broadway Books Random House).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Refer M. Z. Bookman and K. R. Bookman (2007), Medical Tourism in Developing Countries (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 6.
    See S. Wilkinson (2003), Bodies for Sale: Ethics and Exploitation in the Human Body Trade (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A. Buchanan, D. W. Brook, N. Daniels, D. Wilker (2001 edn), From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    R. Richardson (2001 edn), Death, Dissection and the Destitute (Chicago: Chicago University Press).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    V. Glendinning (1983 edn), Edith Sitwell, A Unicorn Among Lions, (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 132.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    A. Macalister (1908), ‘Fifty Years of Medical Education’, British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, no. 2492, X, pp. 957–60, quote at p. 960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Elizabeth T. Hurren 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth T. Hurren
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityUK

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