Numéro 22

Fighting Hydra

The Uncertainties of Waiting for a Liver Transplant

Page 47
Julia Rehsmann

This article sheds light on the experiences of people waiting for a liver transplant. I argue that waiting lists serve as a technological tool to deal with the uncertainties inherent in medicine, but like Hercules fighting Hydra, one tamed uncertainty is merely replaced by two new ones. Drawing on ethnographic material from Germany, I argue that these lists retain those waiting in a temporal limbo of uncertain duration and outcome, making them spatially, temporally and existentially immobile.

Julia Rehsmann is a PhD candidate and research fellow at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern. Her dissertation on liver transplantation is part of an SNSF-funded research project on «Intimate Uncertainties. Precarious Life and Moral Economy Across European Borders», headed by Prof. Sabine Strasser.
University of Bern
, Institute for Social Anthropology, Lerchenweg 36
, Postfach 999
, CH-3000 Bern 9