Please write 300-word for each one with references attached separately. Students example and articles will be provided as usual.

Question 1:

Is medical tourism another way (poor) people in developing countries are exploited by wealthy foreigners? What do the different readings this week, directly or indirectly, argue?

Ex1.

In both the articles from Kangas and Speier, exploitation of poor people in developing countries are approached. I think to some extent there is a sense of exploitation but not in every sense of the matter. I believe that some of the poorer people can be exploited by these wealthy foreigners but on the other hand I think that in some way these foreigners are helping them financially.

Kangas began to talk about this concept of transplant tourism which is defined as “rich foreigners traveling to buy the organs of the poor, who have no choice but to sell them” (Kangas 2011, 331) while Speier noted that “reproductive medicine reifies body parts, making them into objects, and subsequently commodities” (Speier 2012, 212). In this sense I think that wealthy tourists would take advantage of the fact that these poorer people will sell their organs to make money and also dehumanize any possible help they could give to the foreigners. They would simply just see these poorer people as a an opportunity to buy this commodity from them so they can have a longer life. I don’t believe it has a fully exploitative nature but just another way for poorer people to make money and wealthy foreigners to cut costs.

Another aspect of this question touches upon the fact that indirectly these foreigners are helping the poorer people in the long run. This is mostly seen in Speier’s article which has the opposite idea of exploitation. Her article speaks of the opportunities that these developing countries have to satisfy tourists with travel as well as possible pregnancy, through IVF. I gather from the article that the locals in Czech don’t feel exploited as they are afforded job opportunities, money and compensation. I think in this sense the foreigners are not exploiting the locals but asking for help and seeking lower costs. Do you think that all wealthy foreigners have the intention of exploiting the poorer people, or are they trying to do whatever they can to prolong their life?

Kangas, Beth. 2011. “Complicating Common Ideas about Medical Tourism: Gender, Class, and Globality in Yemenis’ International Medical Travel.” Signs36 (2): 327-332.

Speier, Amy. 2012. “Reproductive Tourism: Health Care Crisis Reifies Global Stratified Reproduction.” In Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters, edited by Sarah M. Lyon and E. Christian Wells, 209-226. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Ex2.

All three of the readings assigned for this week have presented compelling arguments in regard to medical tourism.

Ben Kangas defines transplant tourism as “rich foreigners traveling to buy the organs of the poor, who have no choice but to sell them,” (2011, p. 331). Kangas suggests that from this definition it is easy to judge transplant tourism as the wealthy exploiting the poor. However, as the article continues we hear about a contradictory story of Amal, who is a relatively poor patient from a poor country who had to borrow money in order to receive a transplant. Amal will inevitably go into a large amount of debt in order to receive a kidney from a Palestinian woman in Iraq, and thus Amal’s example contradicts the assumption of transplant tourism simply being the wealthy exploiting the poor (Kangas, 2011, p. 331). Kangas argues that the assumptions revolving around medical tourism should not demonize the recipients, and the alternative stories she includes in her article highlight the need to focus on humanizing a system that has been dehumanized.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes takes a more detailed approach on certain underpinnings of transplant tourism, primarily comparing it to neoliberal globalization (2011, p. 63). Scheper-Hughes argues that transplant tourism provides flexibility, mobility, exchange, autonomous subjects, and thus creates greedy demands and predatory claims “on the bio-disposable”. Transplant tourism can commodify body parts for a “global network”. The dilemma that arises is when most people view transplant tourism as a promising trade rather than a “rotten trade” as would be understood through the trafficking of guns, drugs and illicit sex (Scheper-Hughes, 2011, p. 85). Transplant tourism is, in fact, a trade, and Scheper-Hughes argues that it reflects where we are in the present with our bodies, notions of being human, our relationships to others, and accepting our susceptibility to death.

Lastly, Amy Speier concludes her article in a way that perfectly combines both Kangas and Scheper-Hughes insights. Speier points out the financial impact reproductive services can entail, and she admits that medical tourism can offer couples access to treatments that are often denied or too costly in the United States (2012, p. 223). What we as anthropologists must do is study reproductive travel with a compassionate perspective, but as well surveying the political underpinnings of the trade and the power relations it may instigate.

In conclusion, from the alternative perspectives that this week’s articles have provided, I would argue that medical tourism is not bad nor good, but a combination of the sorts. Attempting to state that all medical tourism is simply exploiting the poor does not shed light on the possible benefits it can have on underprivileged individuals (as Kangas outlined). As well, as there is a lack of access to affordable health-care within the United States, it is easy to understand how a market would arise in regard to benefiting or saving a humans life.

References

Kangas, B. (2011). Complicating common ideas about medical tourism: gender, class, and globality in Yemenis’ international medical travel. Signs, 36 (2), 327-332.

Scheper-Hughes, N. (2011). Mr Tati’s holiday and João’s safari – seeing the world through transplant tourism. Body & Society, 17(2-3), 55-92.

Speier, A. (2012). Reproductive tourism: health care crisis reifies global stratified reproduction. Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters, 209-226.

Question 2:

All three readings this week raise concerns, directly or indirectly, about the term tourism in regards to the travel for medical or reproductive reasons. Both Beth Kangas and Amy Speier prefer the term travel over tourism, that is, medical travel instead of medical tourism (Kangas) and cross-border reproductive travel instead of reproductive tourism (Speier).

Questions

What do you think about the authors’ reservations regarding the term tourism (as in medical tourism, reproductive tourism, or transplant tourism)? Connected to this question: What are the authors’ (underlying) views on tourism? What do you think of the replacement of the term medical tourism with medical travel?

* In your response, you may want to consider Chambers’ definition of the term tourism, presented in the introduction of his book Native Tours. See also my post “Addition to Week 2: Travel and Tourism” in the forum of week 3.

Ex1.

From the readings, it is clear to me that the authors find a clear distinction between ‘tourism’ and ‘travel’, ‘journey’, ‘exile’, etc. Kangas (2011, 328) is quite straightforward with her opposition against the use of the term ‘medical tourism’ because it “suggests leisure and frivolity”, which is problematic to her because it devalues the patients’ suffering. Preferring ‘travel’ or ‘journey’ over ‘tourism’, Kangas believes that such a nuance in terms would put the patients at the forefront rather than the medical tourism industry (i.e. the destinations and the facilitators). Similarly, Speier (2012, 209) notes that the term ‘reproductive tourism’ may connote “pleasurable travel” while ‘reproductive exile’, much like Kangas’s preference of ‘travel/journey’, prioritizes the patients and the hardships they face. However, Speier would rather choose ‘travel’ and is mindful of the tension that may arise between the connotation of a leisurely travel and the seriousness of a medical treatment. Scheper-Hughes is a bit unique in her approach to the conflict between the words, but I believe the distinction she makes is the same as the other authors. She reads ‘transplant tourism’ as a euphemism for ‘human body part trafficking’. Just like Speier and Kangas, I think she also believes there are different levels of seriousness involved and the term ‘tourism’ is associated with more leisurely, lower stakes trips. Scheper-Hughes (2011, 58) notes that “transplant tourism suggests […] that travel for beauty […] is no different than travel to procure an illegal transplant with trafficked sellers”. In any case, Scheper-Hughes adopts the term ‘transplant tourism’ for methodological reasons; it allows her to analyse the activity as an “edgy medical-recreational adventure” in order to better understand participants’ motivations beyond “desperate need and despicable greed” (Scheper Hughes 2011, 63).

From this, it is clear that the authors associate ‘tourism’ with a trivial, frivolous, or at least less risky kind of travel. It contrasts Chambers’ view of the term, as well as my own, as “any kind of travel activity that includes the self-conscious experience of another place” (Chambers 2010, 6). I think a broader understanding of tourism has its merits and moving away from the term when discussing medical tourism only strengthens the association of ‘tourism’ with superficiality and leisure. I understand Kangas and Speier’s concerns over the possible dehumanising effects of its usage, but such reservations only stem from their understanding of ‘tourism’ as a shallow endeavour. Adopting Chambers’ definition, we can come to understand that there are different types of tourists with a diverse range of travel purposes. More so than just ‘travel’ vs. ‘tourism’, this week’s readings introduce even more terms into the dispute (‘exile’, ‘journey’, etc). I believe using one (or fewer) terms consistently allows us to better analyse and compare different types of travel together, side-by-side, in opposition or relation to one another. Such a restrictive definition of ‘tourism’ limits the potential for far-reaching perspectives and considerations we can uncover/research/explore when discussing tourism from an anthropological lens. It is a “pervasive influence in our lives” and its importance should not be trivialized (Chambers 2010, 6).

Chambers, Erve. 2010. Native Tours: The Anthropology of Travel and Tourism. Long Grove, Il: Waveland Press.

Kangas, Beth. 2011. “Complicating Common Ideas about Medical Tourism: Gender, Class, and Globality in Yemenis’ International Medical Travel.” Signs 36 (2): 327-332.

Speier, Amy. 2012. “Reproductive Tourism: Health Care Crisis Reifies Global Stratified Reproduction.” In Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters, edited by Sarah M. Lyon and E. Christian Wells, 209-226. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Ex2.

I think the author’s reservations regarding using the term tourism are valid. Although the authors’ (Speier and Kangas) don’t explicitly reveal their view of tourism, it is implied that they view tourism as a leisure activity rather than the act of travelling to another place. We can see this idea throughout both their articles, especially when they don’t want to refer to medical travel and the topics they discuss as tourism. Since their articles frame medical “travel” as more of an involuntary act or an act of desperation, they change the term in order to fit this notion. The authors may view medical travel as a completely separate form of travel than tourism can be considered. By this I mean that they don’t see medical tourism as a leisure activity or a frivolous activity (as discussed in Chambers’ Native Tours). The traditional view of tourism is one of leisure and frivolousness, but the authors want to distance themselves from this idea due to the seriousness of the topic they are discussing. The travellers don’t travel here for fun or leisure, they travel to the destinations to seek treatment or transplants that they otherwise could not afford or obtain.

I think the replacement of the term is valid due to the underlying notions that surround the idea or definition of tourism. That being said, Chambers’ definition of tourism as “any kind of travel activity that includes the self-conscious experience of another place” is not taken into account (2010, 6). By this definition, medical travel is medical tourism. However, it can be said that those travelling for medical care and treatment are not “self-consciously experiencing another place”. Instead, they are seeking treatment and not experiencing the traditional ideas of tourism, such as local culture, etc. Ultimately, especially in Speier’s article, the idea that treatments are being sold by agencies (including airfare, hotels and other tourist attractions) does warrant the authors using the term tourism over the term travel. Speier discusses that in-between treatments, patients often go visit neighbouring cities or countries as a form of leisure activity (2012, 220). This is a self-conscious experience of another place. Although the foreigners do not necessarily arrive in this country for this purpose, they are still experiencing the country through a tourist lens. I do agree with Kangas not using the term tourism since she looks at medical travel as an act of desperation. I think Speier should be less stringent on her use of the world ‘travel’ instead of ‘tourism’ because she explicitly discusses tourism and tour packages offered as a part of ‘medical travel’.

Chambers, Erve. 2010. Native Tours: The Anthropology of Travel and Tourism. 2nd ed. Long Grove, Ill: Waveland Press.

Kangas, Beth. 2011. “Complicating Common Ideas about Medical Tourism: Gender, Class and Globality in Yemenis’ International Medical Travel.” Signs 36 (2): 327-332.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 2011. “Mr. Tati’s Holiday and João’s Safari: Seeing the World Through Transplant Tourism.” Body & Society 17 (2&3): 55-92.

Speier, Amy. 2012. “Reproductive Tourism: Health Care Crisis Reifies Global Stratified Reproduction.” In Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters, edited by Sarah M. Lyon and E. Christian Wells, 209-226. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Ex3.

In regard to the use of “travel” rather than “tourism”, I gather that the authors consciously alter the terminology in response to their own explicit or implicit views on the industry itself. From my understanding throughout the course and the many anthropologists’ perspectives, tourism ultimately denotes the voyage to another location to experience something new for one’s own personal leisure or pleasure. Although Chambers’ defines tourism as “any kind of travel activity that includes the self-conscious experience of another place” (Chambers 2010, 6), I don’t think that the authors of this week’s readings would necessarily agree. Chambers’ definition would technically include medical tourism where one would have a “self conscious experience of another place”, while acquiring cheaper medical actions. However, the authors suggest that individuals that require or desire the medical treatments available abroad, primarily travel to those places to acquire these medical transactions. Their journey across the world is catalyzed and sustained strictly by the fact that they need affordable medical care that they could not access from their home countries. From the readings, I assume that these individuals or couples have no desire to travel to these locations prior to learning about the opportunities available there, and the purpose of the trip is not recreational. Yes, the added benefit of going to experience a foreign country may justify and increase the excitement of the trip, but these patients who are in need of complicated treatments or want to bear a child aren’t being frivolously venturing abroad. Thus, the authors this week use ‘travel’ to underscore and differentiate medical tourism from other types of tourism that are inherently more pleasurable or educational.

Evidently, the use and meaning of particular worlds like tourism and travel hold different meaning to each individual depending on their values, experiences and opinions on the context. They give the reader an insight into how the author views the particular topic.

Therefore, I believe that the author’s distinction or change in terminology is just an attempt to express their opinion on medical tourism industry and depict how they believe it is situated in reality. It is clearly a very nuanced area, as seen by the differing viewpoints each author provides. The terminology used to describe this phenomenon doesn’t necessarily indicate a positive or negative impact. Depending on one’s respective role in the industry (patient, doctor, travel agency, prospect, or observer), one will have vastly differing perspectives on the morality and effectiveness of medical tourism or travel, and choose their words accordingly.

For example, Scheper-Hughes takes a cynical and aggressive approach by describing transplant tourism as, “nothing but a polite euphemism for transplant trafficking, a global billion-dollar criminal industry involved in the transfer of fresh kidneys….Those at the very top of so-called transplant tour schemes are not nice people” (Scheper-Hughes 2011, 58). At the same time, Kungas is able to explain transplant tourism in a more empathetic and open-minded way as she addresses how the dichotomy between rich and poor within medical travel make it easy to judge the rich for their actions. Then she also emphasizes “that the suffering of the medical travelers is elided; we gain little knowledge about the medical conditions that sent them abroad and the concerns and fears that they have for their lives” (Kungas 2011, 331).

Chambers, Erve. 2010. Native Tours: The Anthropology of Travel and Tourism. 2nd ed. Long Grove, Ill: Waveland Press.

Kangas, Beth. 2011. “Complicating Common Ideas about Medical Tourism: Gender, Class and Globality in Yemenis’ International Medical Travel.” Signs 36 (2): 327-332.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 2011. “Mr. Tati’s Holiday and João’s Safari: Seeing the World Through Transplant Tourism.” Body & Society 17 (2&3): 55-92

 

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