NameMcDonald, Emily Anne (author), Mascia-Lees, Fran (chair), Guarnaccia, Peter (internal member), Goldstein, Daniel (internal member), Schein, Louisa (internal member), Rapp, Rayna (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Medical tourism--Argentina--Buenos Aires
DescriptionThis dissertation examines the emerging phenomenon of transnational medical travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina based on fifteen months of fieldwork between 2006 and 2008. Ethnographic data were gathered through the observation of medical consultations and surgeries, interviews with doctors, patient coordinators, and hospital administrators, as well as living with transnational patients during their preparation for,
and recovery from, surgery. Although crossing borders in order to seek out health has long existed under a variety of circumstances, with the turn of the 21st century, global biomedical services have emerged on a larger scale – wrapped within the neoliberal
vernacular of the nascent “medical tourism” industry. Despite industry claims to a uniform global market in health care, I argue that transnational patients’ choice of destination is shaped by long-standing, colonial-era
conventions that divide the world between places deemed “safe” and those that are “contaminated” and “risky.” In Buenos Aires, assertions of biomedical expertise are embedded within claims that the city is a “European” and “white” alternative to other “tropical” medical travel destinations. Tourists are additionally encouraged to think of the “Paris of South America” as a bargain destination, resulting from the economic crisis
of 2000/2001 and the subsequent devaluation of the Argentine peso. Medical travel marketing ostensibly aimed at foreign patients becomes a potent site for locals to articulate the role of European heritage in Argentine identity, and debate the status of Argentina as a “modern” nation following the devastating economic crisis. My work with transnational patients undergoing surgery in Argentina suggests that theoretical approaches to the relationship between bodies and movement would be helpfully reconceived within the context of medical travel. I focus on embodiment – and
the perceptual experiences of “bodies-in-momentum” – to account for the spatial and temporal displacement patients experience as part of undergoing surgery thousands of miles from home. I also examine how surgeons are being repositioned by the incoming flow of
foreign patients, which they experience both as a source of recognition of their expertise, as well as a source of indignation in being relegated as “cheap” alternatives to doctors of the Global North.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Emily Anne McDonald
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.