, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 135–151 | Cite as

The normalisation of body gifting in Taiwan

  • Hung-Chieh Chang
Original Article


The Tzu Chi Foundation has made body gifting, such as body donation, bone marrow donation and cord blood donation, successful in Taiwan. Using Foucault’s theoretical framework of governmentality and normalisation, this article discusses how a Buddhist charity, the Tzu Chi Foundation, normalises body gifting in Taiwan through their campaigns, system and philosophy. It argues that Buddhist discourses of karma create a ‘benefit-all altruism’ in body gifting. Furthermore, the emergence of the Tzu Chi Foundation in the last five decades has been a process of discipline and norm construction. The Tzu Chi Foundation, with its comprehensive missions, builds up an extensive network to spread their philosophy in different fields, from environmental protection and humanity education to medical care. The practice-oriented and community-based volunteer system helps the ‘giving’ ideology take root in the communities in Taiwan. Finally, through the media and the Internet, the effect goes beyond the institutional boundaries and reaches the public.


body gifting Foucault normalisation Tzu Chi Taiwan 



This article has benefited from research support provided to the project of “Bionetworking in Asia” from the ERC (283219) and ESRC (ES/I018107/1). The author is especially grateful for the support and helpful comments from Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner and colleagues from the Centre for Bionetworking. The research on which this original material is based has been subject to ethics review at the University of Sussex. The author does not have any competing intellectual or financial interests in the research detailed in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The London School of Economics and Political Science 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hung-Chieh Chang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySchool of Global Studies, University of SussexBrightonUK

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