Transplant temporalities and deadly reproductive futurity in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the generally pathologized relationship between organ recipients and the families of deceased donors. Its focus is Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2003 production 21 Grams because this film brings to the fore both the urgent desire of the organ recipient to be close to the donor family and the purported pathological ramifications of such encounters. Furthermore, the formal representation of time portrays the very ways in which normative structures of temporality are disrupted and perhaps irreversibly altered by the organ transfer process. The article explores how the film forecloses the possibility of the organ recipient and the donor family creating a viable relationship. It argues that the film terminates a transplant temporality by structuring the narrative ending through a normative linear trajectory of reproductive heterosexuality. It concludes with an examination of how the donor family returns to a life of sameness where social norms are restored and repeated, and where transplantees accept a deadly fate so that anxieties about bodily relationality and disruptive temporalities can be assuaged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-68
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • biopolitics
  • biotechnologies
  • donor families
  • futurity
  • heteronormativity
  • organ transplantation
  • reproduction
  • time and temporality
  • 21 Grams


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