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Professor Fay Bound Alberti, 'Whose face is it anyway? The history and politics of facial transplantation'.
Fewer than 50 face transplants have taken place around the world since 2005. None, as yet, in the UK. The AboutFace project, now Interface, explores the history, politics and ethics of facial transplantation. Working with extended surgical teams in 9 countries, with leading researchers across a range of disciplines, and with patients and caregivers, Interface highlights how the humanities can help shape clinical practice and patient experience.
In this paper, Fay Bound Alberti, Professor in Modern History at King’s College London, examines the challenges, politics and ethics of facial transplantation through a discussion of its history, clinical development, psychosocial impacts, and ethical entanglements. The issues raised in this paper – and the work of Interface, which is funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship – move beyond the scope of experimental surgery to pose broader questions about embodiment, identity and what it means to be human.