The Placenta Economy: From trashed to treasured bio-products

Charlotte Kroløkke, Elizabeth Dickinson, Karen A. Foss

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article examines the human placenta not only as a scientific, medical and biological entity but as a consumer bio-product. In the emergent placenta economy, the human placenta is exchanged and gains potentiality as food, medicine and cosmetics. Drawing on empirical research from the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Japan, the authors use feminist cultural analysis and consumer theories to discuss how the placenta is exchanged and gains commodity status as a medical supplement, smoothie, pill and anti-ageing lotion. Placenta preparers and new mothers cite medical properties and spirituality as reasons for eating or encapsulating the placenta, reinstating ideas of the liberated good mother. Meanwhile, the cosmetics industry situates the placenta as an extract and hence a commodity, re-naturalizing it as an anti-ageing, rejuvenating and whitening bio-product. The authors conclude that, in the emergent bio-economy, the dichotomy between the inner and the outer body is deconstructed, while the placenta gains clinical and industrial as well as affective value.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)138–153
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Bio-economy
  • commodification
  • consumer bio-product
  • feminist cultural analysis
  • placenta consumption


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