culturele antropologie
212 p.p., 17 x 24 cm, € 24,90 Paperback
ISBN: 9789079578450  Available


When I Die, I Will Go To the University

A Study of Body Donation in the Netherlands

Sophie Bolt

‘When I die, I will go to the university’, was a proud statement by body donor Paul. Born in 1913 in the Catholic southern part of the Netherlands, Paul was raised Catholic. As an adult he withdrew himself from the church and gradually his claim ‘I will go to heaven’ changed into ‘I will go to the university’.

Each year approximately 650 people voluntarily donate their entire body after death to one of the eight anatomical institutes in the Netherlands, just like Paul. Their bodies are used in dissecting rooms for educational purposes and scientific research. This offers students the opportunity to learn practical human anatomy, and medical professionals to refine their surgical techniques.

When I Die, I Will Go To the University’ contains research articles investigating the actual practice of body donation in the Netherlands. It is argued that body donation is a complex, dynamic and meaningful way of gift-giving. By doing so body donors, anatomical professionals and bereaved get related to one another in the extraordinary gift of a whole body to an anatomical institute.

Sophie Bolt is a cultural anthropologist affiliated as researcher at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Her work on donation, motivation, death and conflict, provides insights into human behaviour.