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Am Anthropol. 2012;114(1):108-22.

Moral maps and medical imaginaries: clinical tourism at Malawi's College of Medicine.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison.


At an understaffed and underresourced urban African training hospital, Malawian medical students learn to be doctors while foreign medical students, visiting Malawi as clinical tourists on short-term electives, learn about “global health.” Scientific ideas circulate fast there; clinical tourists circulate readily from outside to Malawi but not the reverse; medical technologies circulate slowly, erratically, and sometimes not at all. Medicine's uneven globalization is on full display. I extend scholarship on moral imaginations and medical imaginaries to propose that students map these wards variously as places in which—or from which—they seek a better medicine. Clinical tourists, enacting their own moral maps, also become representatives of medicine “out there”: points on the maps of others. Ethnographic data show that for Malawians, clinical tourists are colleagues, foils against whom they construct ideas about a superior and distinctly Malawian medicine and visions of possible alternative futures for themselves.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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