Commodification of the Human Body (2017/18)

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

At the beginning of the twenty-first century the uses of thehuman body, its organs, tissues and cells are increasingly diversified. One can observe the worldwide presence of old uses and misuses of the human body, such as prostitution, organ trafficking, human trafficking but more and more also new forms of commodification, such as surrogacy and the sale of eggs. In biomedical research, in stem-cell research, and in assisted reproduction, the human body is asked to fulfill various scientific and commercial purposes ranging from essential life-saving treatments to aesthetic enhancement. Reflecting on these complex phenomena, this course will apply human-rights and gender-studies approaches to analyze academic texts and judicial cases on the commodification and commercialization of the human body in biobanks, tissue- and organ donation, biotechnological inventions, organ and egg trade, organ trafficking and tourism, and trafficking of women. These topicswill provide a rich repertoire of social and legal questions for the lectures, seminars and film sessions during the winter semester. 

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Encouraging students to analyze the gender component in legal cases about the human body
  2. Developing analytical skills in the field of reproductive rights and commercialization of the human body
  3. Strengthening the students’ capacity to understand and analyze relevant legal cases on commodification, organ, and egg trade
  4. Assessing the impact of new commercial challenges on gender, minorities, and future generations

Students are required to participate in the discussion of the legal and theoretical issues implicated in the literature and in the legal cases. Reading assignments and the schedule of the course are listed in the detailed syllabus. Course requirements include attendance at lectures and seminars.

Evaluation: active participation in seminar discussion, based on the required readings and seminar presentations (20% of the final grade); and a written take home essay (with a length of appr. 14,000 characters) (80 % of the final grade).