years ago in the deserts of turkistan
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Recent acquisitions from Prairie Lights, a bookstore in Iowa City at which I see myself spending a lot money in the future. 

Recent acquisitions from Prairie Lights, a bookstore in Iowa City at which I see myself spending a lot money in the future. 

"In the English language use of the word donation with respect to property exchange is of long standing, but use of the word donor in connection with the anonymous release of body tissues and parts commenced only in the 1960s. Individuals who sign “donor” cards, some of whom eventually become organ donors, are in effect acquiescing in a form of depersonalization that is integral to the system of national and international organ-sharing networks. In my opinion this depersonalization constitutes a form of “euphemized violence” (Bourdieu 1990a:85): a form of exploitation in which vital human organs are assessed as invaluable until the moment that culture intrudes, in the form of a skilled transplant surgeon. Organs are then transformed into precious commodities. I am not categorically opposed to the sale of organs, although I am opposed to human organs being placed on the open market, but I question why those who make “gifts” of their organs, and their families, should receive neither recompense nor recognition of any kind. Some donor families cannot even be sure their gift has not ended up in the slop bucket.”

— Margaret Lock, from “Boundary Transgressions and Moral Uncertainty,” chapter 1 of Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death

Excerpt from “The Morality of Self-interested Exchange Rituals of Intercession,” chapter 4 in Performing Islam: Gender and Ritual in Iran by Azam Torab. 

Excerpt from “The Morality of Self-interested Exchange Rituals of Intercession,” chapter 4 in Performing Islam: Gender and Ritual in Iran by Azam Torab. 

Excerpt from “The Morality of Self-interested Exchange Rituals of Intercession,” chapter 4 in Performing Islam: Gender and Ritual in Iran by Azam Torab. 

Excerpt from “The Morality of Self-interested Exchange Rituals of Intercession,” chapter 4 in Performing Islam: Gender and Ritual in Iran by Azam Torab. 

Snippet from the table of contents of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Snippet from the table of contents of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

I’m feeling a bit sad because this will be my last Norooz at home.

I’m feeling a bit sad because this will be my last Norooz at home.

Images: Silver shrine lock, 15th-16th centuries (top); steel shrine lock, 16th-17th centuries (middle); detail of the grillwork surrounding the tomb of Imam Reza in Mashad, Iran, c. 1974 (bottom). All images are from the Tanavoli collection.*

Besides providing security, locks are important for Shiʿite Muslims. Locks on the doors of holy places such as shrines, public water fountain (saqqāḵānas), and mosques, especially those on the transenna or grillwork (żariḥ) enclosing the tomb of Imam Reżā in Mashad, are believed to have special power. Pilgrims grasp the tomb lock and make vows and seek help from the Imam. Some pilgrims bring their own locks as a symbolic reminder and fasten them to the grillwork around the tomb. By attaching the locks to the grill, they believe the holy shrine will unlock (resolve) their problems.”

— Parviz Tanavoli, from the article "Locks and Locksmiths in Iran," in the Encylopaedia Iranica

These are JawsII cells — immature dendritic cells that were derived from the bone marrow of mice of a specific genetic background*, and subsequently immortalized for use in continuous cell culture. Like immature dendritic cells in vivo, cells from the JawsII line can become mature dendritic cells, which have a characteristic dendrite-like morphology, upon stimulation with antigen. 
Dendritic cells, along with macrophages and B cells, are antigen-presenting cells. Immature dendritic cells, which are visually very similar to the cells pictured above, capture antigens from their surroundings via mechanisms such as phagocytosis. then process these antigens and present them on their surfaces in the context of MHC class II. Acquisition and presentation of antigen leads to the migration of dendritic cells to the lymph nodes, where they present antigen to (and stimulate) T and B cells. 
Dendritic cells can also be derived from either immortalized monocyte cell lines or primary monocytes derived from blood. In a lab setting, monocyte differentiation into immature dendritic cells is induced by GM-CSF and IL-4 *; stimulating the immature dendritic cells with potent mediators of inflammation like TNF-alpha will induce their maturation into dendrite-bearing cells. 

These are JawsII cells — immature dendritic cells that were derived from the bone marrow of mice of a specific genetic background*, and subsequently immortalized for use in continuous cell culture. Like immature dendritic cells in vivo, cells from the JawsII line can become mature dendritic cells, which have a characteristic dendrite-like morphology, upon stimulation with antigen. 

Dendritic cells, along with macrophages and B cells, are antigen-presenting cells. Immature dendritic cells, which are visually very similar to the cells pictured above, capture antigens from their surroundings via mechanisms such as phagocytosis. then process these antigens and present them on their surfaces in the context of MHC class II. Acquisition and presentation of antigen leads to the migration of dendritic cells to the lymph nodes, where they present antigen to (and stimulate) T and B cells. 

Dendritic cells can also be derived from either immortalized monocyte cell lines or primary monocytes derived from blood. In a lab setting, monocyte differentiation into immature dendritic cells is induced by GM-CSF and IL-4 *; stimulating the immature dendritic cells with potent mediators of inflammation like TNF-alpha will induce their maturation into dendrite-bearing cells. 

Steel padlocks typically attached to the grilles of shrines; Iran, 19th-20th century, from the collection of Parviz Tanavoli.

“Another pilgrimage practice is making a request and a corresponding vow. For example, a pilgrim might pray for success in a business venture and make a vow to pay so much to the shrine if he is successful. As he makes the vow the pilgrim tears off a piece of fabric from his clothing, or takes a piece of wool or thread of some sort, and ties it to the grill. Alternatively he attaches a padlock [like those pictured above] to it. This action signifies the binding of the pilgrim to his intercessor, i.e. the Imam buried there, and acts as a reminder to the intercessor of the pilgrim’s request and promise. Locks are also attached by pilgrims to other grilles, e.g. the steel window in the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad, which faces the tomb chamber and separates it from the outer part of the shrine complex. It is a favourite place to hang locks […].”
— James W. Allan, from The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi’ism
Allan notes that these padlocks are but one of two types associated with shrines in Iran. The other type of padlock is “[…] the shrine padlock, which is used to fasten the door of the zarih.”

Steel padlocks typically attached to the grilles of shrines; Iran, 19th-20th century, from the collection of Parviz Tanavoli.

“Another pilgrimage practice is making a request and a corresponding vow. For example, a pilgrim might pray for success in a business venture and make a vow to pay so much to the shrine if he is successful. As he makes the vow the pilgrim tears off a piece of fabric from his clothing, or takes a piece of wool or thread of some sort, and ties it to the grill. Alternatively he attaches a padlock [like those pictured above] to it. This action signifies the binding of the pilgrim to his intercessor, i.e. the Imam buried there, and acts as a reminder to the intercessor of the pilgrim’s request and promise. Locks are also attached by pilgrims to other grilles, e.g. the steel window in the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad, which faces the tomb chamber and separates it from the outer part of the shrine complex. It is a favourite place to hang locks […].”

— James W. Allan, from The Art and Architecture of Twelver Shi’ism

Allan notes that these padlocks are but one of two types associated with shrines in Iran. The other type of padlock is “[…] the shrine padlock, which is used to fasten the door of the zarih.”

“Something deeply disturbing about the prospects of organ transplantation precluded Ragia, Muna, and other patients from considering it as a viable treatment. Muna’s hope focused on stem cells and the future possibility of a technique in bodily regeneration. This position challenges doctors’ assumptions that their patients’ refusals of organ transplantation are due to “fatalism,” a fear of human intervention in a divine plan, or anxieties about technological intervention in “natural processes.” At the time of my fieldwork, a certain irony unfolded: In the United States, stem cell research, the very hope that Muna said kept her going each day, had provoked major ethical and political discussion, while organ transplantation in dominant North American discourse continued to be depicted as an act of altruism, that well-known “gift of life.” In contrast, most of the Egyptian patients with whom I spoke felt uneasy about organ transplantation, but they had no such qualms about ideas of “therapeutically cloning” kidneys or about “artificial kidneys” in the form of the dialysis machines that were sustaining them. The positions of these Egyptians may initially seem strange, considering their avowals that “the body belongs to God.” Why did organ procurement from another human trouble the premise of the body as divine property, whereas the therapeutic cloning of kidneys, or their replacement via a dialysis machine, did not? I soon learned that transplantation did not appear beneficial as a medical “solution,” because patients often resisted the idea of turning to a family member as a potential kidney donor. Most patients did not experience their illnesses as isolated in their kidneys. Neither did they conceive of their body parts as interchangeable with those of others. Many patients did not accept what medical expertise has identified as a “tolerable risk,” that is, the opening up of a healthy human donor and extracting a vital organ. They expressed their frustration at being vulnerable to the stresses of daily life, to the mismanagement of toxic waste, to the dumping of pesticides on agricultural land, and to a generally polluted environment. The polluted cities and farmland and their mismanagement through corruption and exploitation profoundly influenced the patients’ ethical dispositions toward their treatment options. They saw themselves as the most damaged cases in a place where everyone was vulnerable to organ failure, including would-be donors.” —Sherine Hamdy, from chapter one of Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt
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