CALL FOR PAPERS (DEADLINE: 31 MARCH 2015)
International Medical Travel and the Politics of Transnational Mobility in Asia
This workshop is organised by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; with support from the Monash University, Australia.
Although travelling across nations and crossing borders to seek medical care is not new, the rapidly increasing volume and velocity of medical travel at the turn of the 21st century soon raised its international profile and visibility. Especially with the emergence of the medical tourism industry, contemporary international medical travel expanded considerably as private hospitals stepped up their marketing to reach patient-consumers overseas and new businesses that sought to facilitate cross-country utilization of medical care proliferated.
In tandem with the growth of the phenomenon, medical travel/tourism as a field of research has also grown rapidly, with recent works encompassing ethnographic studies of patients’ experiences and subjectivities in the context of diverse types of medical travel as well as critical studies of international medical travel as a form of engagement embedded within struggles for access and rights to health care, as a reflection of shifting geographies of care and responsibility, and as forms of interactive encounter at the bodily, local and national scales, shaped by processes of globalization.
This workshop aims to provide a platform for discussing empirical and conceptual works on international medical travel in the context of the politics of transnational mobilities in Asia. Viewing Asia as a region of diverse and dynamic transnational mobilities, we are interested in papers that explore the ways in which international medical travel has developed in the region, the local, national and regional mechanisms that both impede and aid international medical travel, and the negotiations and contestations that accompany it.
We recognize that while international medical travel encompasses a range of different types of patient flows, and although the term ‘medical tourism’ often conjures up the idea of people travelling vast distances for medical care, the major flows are by and large intra-regional, often initiated because of the lack (or inaccessibility) of treatment facilities in the patients’ own countries. International medical travel therefore cross-cuts with people’s everyday realities, with different types of mobilities and bounded-ness, and with institutional processes in local, national, regional, as well as societal contexts.
While open to different theoretical approaches, we highlight the following which may provide useful starting points for empirical analysis:
1) Transnational studies have fruitfully re-conceptualized migration and migrants’ realities within transnational social fields that do not coincide with national boundaries. While medical travelers are not conventionally regarded as migrants, conceptualizing international medical travel as a transnational social field may serve to reveal the depth and extent of social relations, networks and institutions that underpin this phenomenon.
2) In modern life, access to health care is a crucial part of life and social security. The ways in which health care is accessed and utilized as part of everyday life constitute an important part of social reproduction. Are there ways in which international medical travel contribute to social reproduction that are distinct from, or that distorts, the social reproductive role of locally accessed and utilized health care? Conversely, how may international medical travel contribute to social transformation?
3) Sustaining international medical travel as practice, as an industry, or even as a country export, involves processes of institutionalization that diverge from established conventions in healthcare provision and utilization. What are the ideas, practices, and processes that contribute to the institutionalizing of international medical travel and its cultural reproduction?
4) Locating international medical travel in society necessarily calls for an examination of societal responses, from both host and sending societies. These societal responses range from solidarity and sympathy on the one hand, to resistance and hostility on the other. How do they play out in relations at various levels – individual, organizational, local, and national – and to what extent do they shape the shifting landscape of limits and opportunities in the provision of health and medical care?
SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS
Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract of 250 words maximum and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 31 March 2015. Please send all proposals to Dr Chee Heng Leng at cheehengleng and Assoc Prof Andrea Whittaker at andrea.whittaker.
Successful applicants will be notified by 30 April 2015 and are required to send in a completed draft paper (5,000 – 8,000 words) by 31 July 2015. Based on the quality of proposals and availability of funds, partial or full funding will be granted to successful applicants. Participants are therefore encouraged to seek fund for travel from their home institutions. Full funding covers air travel to Singapore by the most economical means, plus board and lodging for the duration of the workshop.
Dr Chee Heng Leng
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Professor Brenda SA Yeoh
Asia Research Institute, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,
and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
Associate Professor Andrea Whittaker
School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Australia