Rahim and Robert, Stitched Together in Silence (Creative Intervention)

  • Monir Moniruzzaman Michigan State University
  • Camille Turner York University
  • Heather Dewey-Hagborg School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Jim Ruxton Subtle Technologies
Keywords: globalization, medical tourism, organ trafficking, art installation


Spare Parts ( is an art installation created collaboratively by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Jim Ruxton, Camille Turner, and Monir Moniruzzaman. Based on Monir Moniruzzaman’s ethnographic research on the illicit organ trade, Spare Parts explores the ethics of organ trafficking and the emergence of bodily inequality in times of transplant tinkering. In this installation, the viewer is confronted with life sized video projections of Rahim Sheikh, a Bangladeshi kidney seller and Robert Zurrer, a Canadian kidney transplant recipient/buyer, whose kidneys were commodified in the marketplace. The video projections are installed so that the individuals sit in silence facing each other.  Spare Parts highlights the intimacy of spare parts, the economy of the global marketplace, the perils of techno-medicine, and what is means to be human in the 21st century. The installation captures that the buying and selling of body parts is not just a market transaction, but rather represents the desperation, dis/connection, and inequality that exists in the trade.

Author Biography

Monir Moniruzzaman, Michigan State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Anthropology and

Center for Ethics and Humanities in Life Sciences



Askari, S. J. (2009, April 25). Health experts hail FSC verdict on organ sale. The Nation. Retrieved from

Bell, L. A., & Desai, D. (Eds.). (2011). Imagining otherwise: Connecting the arts and social justice to envision and act for change. Equity & Excellence in Education, 44(3), 287-295.

Bos, M. A. (2008). An update on global organ trafficking. ELPAT Forum, TTS Sydney, 1-22.

Brazao, D. (2008, February 3). GTA home to “Dr. Horror.” The Toronto Star. Retrieved from

Campbell, D., & Davison, N. (2012, May 27). Illegal kidney trade booms as new organ is “sold every hour.” The Guardian. Retrieved from

Chengappa, R. (1995, July 31). The great and bloody organs bazaar. Down to Earth. Retrieved from .

Dewey-Hagborg, H. (n.d.) Sci-fi crime drama with a strong black lead. The New Inquiry. Retrieved from

Fox, R. C., & Swazey, J. P. (1992). Spare parts: Organ replacement in human society. London: Oxford University Press.

Garwood, P. (2007). Dilemma over live-donor transplantation. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 85(1), 5-6.

Gift of Life Donor Program. (n.d.). Understanding the waiting list. Retrieved from

Grande, J. K. (2007). The duality of human dignity: Two short essays on Monir Moniruzzaman and Jack Butler. Subtle Technologies Festival. InterAccess, Toronto. Retrieved from

Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2009). Of love possessed. Artforum International, 48(2), 180-264.

Hedges, S. J., & Gaines, W. (2000, May 21). Donors bodies milled into growing profits. Chicago Tribune, May 21, A1, A16-17. Retrieved from

Hogshire, J. (1992). Sell yourself to science: The complete guide to selling your organs, body fluids, bodily function and being a human guinea pig. Port Townsend, WA: Loompanics Unlimited.

Kimbrell, A. (1993). The human body shop: The engineering and marketing of life. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

Moniruzzaman, M. (2012). Living cadavers in Bangladesh: Bioviolence in the human organ bazaar. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 26(1), 69-91.

Moniruzzaman, M. (2013). Parts and labor: The commodification of human body. In A. Quayson & G. Daswani (Eds.), A companion to diaspora and transnationalism (pp. 455-472). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

Moniruzzaman, M. (2014). Domestic organ trafficking: Between biosecurity and bioviolence. In N. Chen & L. Sharp (Eds.), Bioinsecurity and vulnerability (pp. 195-215). Santa Fe, NM: School of Advanced Research Press.

Moniruzzaman, M. (2016). Spare parts for sale: Violence, exploitation, suffering. In P. Brown & S. Closser (Eds.), Understanding and applying medical anthropology (pp. 277-285). San Francisco, CA: Left Coast Press.

Najam, A. (2008, September 4). Selling your kidney in Pakistan. All Things Pakistan. Retrieved from

Naqvi, S. A. A., Ali, B., Mazhar, F., Zafar, M. N., & Rizvi, S. A. H. (2007). A socio-economic survey of kidney vendors in Pakistan. Transplant International, 20, 934-39.

Organs Watch (2009). Organ watch. Berkeley, CA: University of California. Retrieved from

Ram, V. (2002). International traffic in human organs. Frontline, 19(7), n.p. Retrieved from

Rehman, F., & Grisanti, C. (2007, September 5). Pakistan’s kidney bazaar. NBC News.

Roach, M. (2003). Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers. New York: Norton.

Scheper-Hughes, N. (2000). The global traffic in human organs. Current Anthropology, 41(2), 191-224.

Scheper-Hughes, N. (2005). Organs without borders. Foreign Policy, 146, 26-27.

Sharp, L. (2000). The commodification of the body and its parts. Annual Review of Anthropology, 29, 287-328.

Sharp, L. (2006). Strange harvest: Organ replacements, denatured bodies, and the transformed self. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Shimazono, Y. (2007). The state of the international organ trade: A provisional picture based on integration of available information. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 85(12), 955-962.

UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing). (n.d.). Waiting list for organs in the U.S. Retrieved from

WHO (World Health Organization). (2009). Medical tourism and the illicit trafficking of human organs (pp. 1-8) Beirut: UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms.

W-FIVE. (2007). A New Life. Television news documentary. Toronto: CTV.
Consuming Intimacies: Bodies, Labour, Care, and Social Justice