Journal Article

Global Track, National Vehicle: Transnationalism in Medical Tourism in Asia

Published 1 January 2013 / By Biao Xiang, Mika Toyota & Chee Heng Leng

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In this paper, we use the notion of “transnational space” to locate the reconfiguration of healthcare services in the medical tourism industry in Asia. We explore how the transnational space is constituted by a range of actors—hospital corporations, medical professionals, intermediaries, and consumers, and how healthcare services are being reconfigured in this space. In particular, we pay attention to the roles of national governments in developing the industry, including their promotion of the “national brand” as a marketing strategy. By using the “transnational” framework we wish to move attention away from the metaphorical “global market” which implicitly assumes that a homogenous and universalizing market force is behind the development of the medical tourism industry. We argue that the development of medical tourism is purposefully initiated and conditioned by various local actors. Our paper calls attention to the more concrete, politically, historically and geographically specific transnational processes. We will draw on our longstanding work on Malaysia primarily, but also on Singapore, Thailand, and Japan, to illustrate our argument.

Xiang, B., Toyota, M. and Chee, H.L. (2013) 'Global Track, National Vehicle: Transnationalism in Medical Tourism in Asia', European Journal of Transnational Studies, 5(1): 27-53