Lesley A. Sharp

Lesley A. Sharp

Research Interests

Research Concentrations

Death and the Body, Body Commodification, Interspecism, Biotechnologies, Bioethics and Morality


Western Indian Ocean; North America, Africa; Madagascar


A sociocultural and medical anthropologist, Lesley Sharp’s scholarship is marked by a sustained interest in the moral premises, conundrums, and contradictions inherent in affliction and healing, biomedicine, and experimental science. Key research foci include crosscultural interrogations of suffering, loss, and memorialization; personhood and the transformative properties of biomedicine; body commodification; and the moral underpinnings experimental science. Her work rests at the intersection of critical medical anthropology, embodiment theory, science and technology studies (STS), bioethics and everyday morality, and animal studies. A decade of work in Madagascar generated two separate works on gendered, indigenous healing, and intra-island labor migration (The Possessed and the Dispossessed, 1993) and the politico-historical consciousness of school youth amidst the demise of socialism (The Sacrificed Generation, 2002). Her more recent work addresses intersubjectivity in organ transplantation (Strange Harvest, 2006); the human in experimental biotechnologies (Bodies, Commodities and Biotechnologies, 2007, and The Transplant Imaginary, 2013); hidden aspects of biosecurity (Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability, 2014, coedited with N. Chen); and moral thinking in lab animal science (Animal Ethos, 2019).

Sharp has been awarded a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship for research that addresses inmate-run, prison-based hospice programs in the U.S. In 2019, Sharp was awarded the Wellcome Medal for Anthropology as Applied to Medical Problems by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and the MASA Graduate Student Mentor Award of the Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association. Her book Strange Harvest won the New Millennium Book Prize of the Society for Medical Anthropology, and she is the recipient of four teaching awards.



University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Francisco, Joint Program in Medical Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, MA in Sociocultural Anthropology
Brandeis University, BA in English and American Literature, Fine Arts Studio 

2019. Animal Ethos: The Morality of Human-Animal Encounters in Experimental Lab Science. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

2019b. “Interspecies Engagement in Medical Anthropology.” Special issue, Medical Anthropology Quarterly 33, no 1: 163-167.

2018. “The Other Animal of Transplant’s Future.” Special report, Hastings Center Report 48, no. 6: S63-66.

2017. “The Moral Lives of Laboratory Monkeys: Television and the Ethics of Care.” Special issue, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 41, no. 2: 224-244.

2014. Coeditor with Nancy Chen. Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press.

2013. The Transplant Imaginary: Mechanical Hearts, Animal Parts, and Moral Thinking in Highly Experimental Science. Berkeley: University of California Press.
2011. “The Invisible Woman: The Bioaesthetics of Engineered Bodies.” Body & Society 17, no. 1: 1-30.
2011b. “Monkey Business: Interspecies Longing and Scientific Prophecy in Experimental Xenotransplantation.” Special issue, Social Text 106: 43-69.

2009. “Bioengineered Bodies and the Moral Imagination.” The Lancet 374, no. 9694: 970-971.

2007. Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies:  Death, Mourning, and Scientific Desire in the Realm of Human Organ Transfer. New York: Columbia University Press.

2006. Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self. Berkeley: University of California Press. Awarded New Millennium Book Prize (2008) of the Society for Medical Anthropology. 

2002. The Sacrificed Generation: Youth, History, and the Colonized Mind in Madagascar. Berkeley:  University of California Press.

2001. "Commodified Kin: Death, Mourning, and Competing Claims on the Bodies of Organ Donors in the United States." American Anthropologist 103, no. 1: 112-133.

1993. The Possessed and the Dispossessed: Spirits, Identity, and Power in a Madagascar Migrant Town. Berkeley: University of California Press.