Blood donors, development and modernisation: configurations of biological sociality and citizenship in post-colonial Singapore

David Reubi, 2010, Citizenship Studies, 14, 5, 473-493.

This article examines the governmental apparatus organised around Singapore’s Blood Transfusion Service (SBTS) and the knowledge, experts and techniques associated with transfusion medicine. I term this apparatus, which was in place in the Singapore from its first steps towards political independence in 1959 until 1990, ‘Singapore’s haemato-logic assemblage’. Drawing on the work of Foucault, the article explores how this assemblage overflowed into and reconfigured understandings of biological sociality and citizenship in post-colonial Singapore. More specifically, it argues that, in the 30 years following independence, this assemblage brought into being a new figure of the biological citizen by creating a sphere of possibilities for Singaporeans to think and act accordingly. This new figure of the citizen is ‘the blood donor’. Articulated around the SBTS and the knowledge and techniques of transfusion medicine, this donor is a Singaporean who gives blood to save the lives of fellow citizens and participates, thereby, in the development and modernisation of the newly independent nation. To substantiate this argument, the article shows how the haemato-logic assemblage helped to realise this new figure of the citizen by creating – through narratives, statistics, spaces and rewarding schemes – a sphere of possibilities in which Singaporeans could think and act as blood donors.