Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9780226740034 Published November 2020
Cloth $120.00 ISBN: 9780226739977 Published November 2020
E-book $10.00 to $39.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226740171 Published December 2020 Also Available From

Blood Relations

Transfusion and the Making of Human Genetics

Jenny Bangham

Blood Relations

Jenny Bangham

Publication supported by the Bevington Fund

328 pages | 32 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9780226740034 Published November 2020
Cloth $120.00 ISBN: 9780226739977 Published November 2020
E-book $10.00 to $39.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226740171 Published December 2020
Blood is messy, dangerous, and charged with meaning. By following it as it circulates through people and institutions, Jenny Bangham explores the intimate connections between the early infrastructures of blood transfusion and the development of human genetics. Focusing on mid-twentieth-century Britain, Blood Relations connects histories of eugenics to the local politics of giving blood, showing how the exchange of blood carved out networks that made human populations into objects of medical surveillance and scientific research. Bangham reveals how biology was transformed by two world wars, how scientists have worked to define racial categories, and how the practices and rhetoric of public health made genetics into a human science. Today, genetics is a powerful authority on human health and identity, and Blood Relations helps us understand how this authority was achieved.
Prefatory Note

Introduction: Blood, Paper, and Genetics

1. Transfusion and Race in Interwar Europe

2. Reforming Human Heredity in the 1930s

3. Blood Groups at War

4. The Rhesus Controversy

5. Postwar Blood Grouping 1: The Blood Group Research Unit

6. Valuable Bodies and Rare Blood

7. Postwar Blood Grouping 2: Arthur Mourant’s National and International Networks

8. Organizing and Mapping Global Blood Groups

9. Blood Groups and the Reform of Race Science in the 1950s

10. Decoupling Transfusion and Genetics: Blood in the New Human Biology

Conclusion: Blood and Promise





Review Quotes
FASEB Journal
"A bangā€up book. . . . The history of blood transfusion is a major driver of our understanding of human genetics. I wish that the late Louis K. Diamond and Fred H. Allen, two of the foremost blood group geneticists in the United States whom I knew well, were still with us to read and enjoy this fine survey." 
"Along with the analysis of the material and institutional entanglement between blood transfusion and human genetics, Bangham's book sheds light on how blood group research played a fundamental role in transforming eugenics and race science. . . . Elegantly written, beautifully illustrated, and powerfully drawing from the history of biomedicine and the history of technology as well as social and cultural history, Bangham's book already represents a cornerstone in the history of human genetics."
Social History of Medicine
"Bangham's excellent Blood Relations [has] an urgency during the ongoing response to COVID-19 that the author could hardly have anticipated. The book presents a new history of human genetics, one that shows how the exigencies of the World War II in Britain knit an infrastructure for emergency blood transfusion together with a research apparatus for the study of human diversity seeking to redeem its eugenic ambitions through more 'objective' data. . . . Bangham convincingly tells a history of genetics inextricable from the rise of modern bureaucracy and its racial formations. . . . The empirical richness of this amply illustrated book is noteworthy. Attention to popular science publications as well as rote manuals for practitioners complements a deft archival reconstruction of correspondence networks at the heart of the enterprise. Bangham's focus on the material dimensions of science shines. . . . Blood Relations is a valuable contribution to the growing literature on data practices in the human sciences, embodying all of its historiographical virtues: attention to information labour, the politics of extraction, and anxieties over format obsolescence, to name a few." 
"It is fascinating to learn how blood grouping was developed and used to categorize humans, for better or worse. . . . Beyond the technical details of this story, Bangham foregrounds evidence of systemic racism's role at various points in the book, and if the reader is prepared to consider such complexity, then the text can serve as a launching point for penetrating discussion. The book would be a relevant addition to the readings for a college course on the history of science emphasizing the first half of the 20th century. The volume features some black-and-white figures and photographs; the extensive footnotes and references comprise a third of its total pages. All readers interested in biomedical science will find this book fascinating. . . . Highly recommended."
M. Susan Lindee, University of Pennsylvania
Blood Relations is a brilliant and engaging study of the science and the politics of blood. Bangham tracks the story of the practices of blood collection and analysis in Britain after 1900 in ways that vividly illuminate race science, human genetics, nationalism, and war. In her empirically rich account, blood ties together donors, clerks, serologists, geneticists, and anthropologists. The beautifully curated archival images and charts call our attention to the many kinds of labor and laborer involved in modern science. The account of the rise of human genetics is persuasive and novel, situated at the intersections of the history of science, medicine, and modernity. An important and powerful book, Blood Relations is required reading for scholars in the field, but also warmly accessible to any general reader with an interest in the moving human story of how and why blood became a medical, social, and scientific resource.”
Daniel J. Kevles, professor emeritus of history, Yale University
"Bangham tells a stunningly original story: how the science of human blood groups evolved in Britain, from its uses in the transfusion services in World War II through its transformation by the 1960s into a powerful enabler of human population genetics. She exploits a rich trove of archival sources to detail the system of labeling, description, record-keeping, and analysis devised by the leaders of London's blood research centers: R. A. Fisher, Ruth Sanger, and Arthur Mourant. This is, in all, a great feast of a book."
Bruno J. Strasser, author of Collecting Experiments: Making Big Data Biology
"In this masterful study, Bangham sheds new light on the history of human genetics. Looking beyond eugenics, she shows how much human genetics owed to the development of blood transfusion in mid-twentieth century Britain. To tell her riveting story, she brings in a fascinating set of characters including donors, nurses, needle sharpeners, and clerks. Bangham argues convincingly that the state infrastructure put in place on the eve of World War II was essential in producing the collections of blood and data on which depended the rise of the new science."
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