Sara Bea's profile

Sara Bea


Member of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)

Member of the Association for Studies in Innovation, Science and Technology (AsSIST-UK)

Member of the Spanish Network for the Social Study of Science and Technology (red esCTS)


PhD in Science and Technology Studies  2011-2017, ESRC 1+3 scholarship, STIS (nominated for the Outstanding Thesis Award in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Edinburgh)                                                          

MSc Res in Science and Technology Studies, 1+3 ESRC Scholarship (with Distinction) 2010-2011, University of Edinburgh

MSc Social Research (with Distinction) 2009-2010, University of Edinburgh

BSc Psychology (1st class Honours) 1995-2000, Autonomous University of Barcelona and Cardiff University

Research Activities

Member of the Conference Organising Committee ‘Lost in Translation? People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts Across Boundaries’ Joint Meeting Spanish Red EsCTS and Portuguese STS Network, Lisbon, 7-9 June 2017

Member of the Conference Scientific Committee ‘Lost in Translation? People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts Across Boundaries’ Joint Meeting Spanish Red EsCTS and Portuguese STS Network, Lisbon, 7-9 June 2017

Conference Track Co-Organizer ‘STS at the Interstice’ for ‘Lost in Translation? People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts Across Boundaries’ Joint Meeting Spanish Red EsCTS and Portuguese STS Network, Lisbon, 7-9 June 2017

Teaching Experience

Tutor for Science and Society 1B in 2015: Nature and Environment, University of Edinburgh

Marker for Science and Society 1A in 2014, University of Edinburgh

NVIVO tutor for Analysing Qualitative Data postgraduate research course 2012, University of Edinburgh

PhD Title

No Heroics, Please: Mapping Deceased Donation Practices in a Catalan Hospital

PhD Overview

This thesis presents an in-depth ethnographic mapping of deceased donation in a Catalan hospital. A unique site in terms of leading edge technoscientific practices, high rates of donation and its consolidated specialised team of transplant coordinators (TCs). The thesis situates donation as an embedded medical practice and traces the practicalities and specificities of making donation a possibility at the hospital. The empirical accounts offer a distinctive contribution that complements and challenges existing social sciences literature about donation. The latter have predominantly focused on donation as a controversial practice through highlighting the emotional experiences of donors’ families and individual medical practitioners involved. This empirical investigation mobilises, and further develops, STS material semiotics tools to provide an account of donation enacted as both procurement and healthcare. Ethnographic insights illustrate the shifting processes of mutual inclusion and exclusion that underpin the trajectory of integrating donation as a routinized hospital practice, along the recurring set of enduring tensions. This is achieved by following the work of TCs along the stages of donor detection, evaluation, maintenance, consent request and organ extraction. Crucially, the analytical focus decenters the individual actors’ perspectives, broadening the scope of the inquiry and making visible the complex sociomaterial arrangements that take place, inside and outside the hospital, which are rendered as a gradual process of assembling donations. Families’ consent to donation is essential but it is decentered, it is neither that which starts a donation process nor the only factor that contributes to the assembling of a donation process. Unlike available anthropological and sociological studies of donation this work is not about documenting the reductionist transition from patient to donor, whole to parts, person to thing and denouncing the fall from subject to object reified in donation practices. The emphasis here is on tracing the overlap between donors as patients, thus the analysis shows the shifting enactments of the embedded donor/patient configuration, which includes the donor/body, donor/person and donor/corpse figures simultaneously along the donation process. The intervention of bodies as active entities is examined through a speculative and pragmatic elucidation on the situated and relational enactments of responsive bodies and organs. This thesis contributes to contemporary re/articulations of materiality and agency through the lens of distributed joint action and entangled actors from a nonanthropomorphic stance. The research also contributes to current policy debates in the UK, and in Scotland in particular, that propose to tackle the national problem of low donation rates with a legislative move to an opt-out system for donation. It offers robust empirical evidence to contest the dominant organ shortage problematisation that is reduced to the legal polarity of either opting in or out of donation. I suggest that questions about increasing donation rates cannot be restricted to the domain of individual choice as this excludes the situated medical practices that enable the choice of donation in the first place.

Presentations and Conference Papers

‘Doing Donation: An Ethnography of Donor Generating Medical Practices’ presented at STIS PhD Day, University of Edinburgh, May 2012

‘Donation in Motion: Muybridge and Me’ presented at Depicting Social Change: Experiments in Photography and Social Sciences, Centre for Research and Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) Workshop, Milton Keynes, July 2012

‘No Heroics, Please: Enacting the Donor Body in Organ and Tissue Donation Hospital Practices’ presented at IX Workshop Cartographies of the Body, Philosophy Institute, Spanish National Scientific Research Council (CSIC), Madrid, October 2012

‘A practice-based approach to unravelling the content of the donation interview:
an ethnographic study of a transplant coordination team’s procurement practices in a Catalan hospital’
 presented at 3rd Ethical, Legal and Psychosocial Aspects of Transplantation (ELPAT) Congress, Rotterdam, April 2013

‘What do we talk about when we talk about increasing donation rates?’ presented at 4th Ethical, Legal and Psychosocial Aspects of Transplantation (ELPAT) Congress, Rome, April 2016

‘Naming STS: Studies of Technoscientific Practices and processes’ presented at Science Studies Unit 50th Anniversary Workshop ‘Practising the Reflexivity Tenet (50 years later)’, University of Edinburgh, June 2016

‘No Heroics, Please: Renderings and Disruptions of Bodies in Organ Donation Medical Practices’ presented at 4S/EASST Conference, Barcelona 2016

'No Heroics, Please and Storying the PhD into a Thesis' presented at STIS Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, March 2017

‘Troubling Intradisciplinary Boundaries: Reading each other and engaging with the question 'what would I have (not) done differently?’  presented at ‘Lost in Translation? People, Technologies, Practices and Concepts Across Boundaries’ Joint Meeting Red EsCTS and Portuguese STS Network, Lisbon, 7-9 June 2017    

‘What would humans say if we asked the right questions? An STS ethnographer’s reflections about posing questions and enacting research participants by other means’ to be presented at 11th Annual Science in Public Conference, University of Sheffield, 10-12 July 2017