Melissa Pashigian

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20062007 Forum on Travel

Melissa Pashigian

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College

Vietnam, Infertility, and the Globalized Market for Medical Tourism

The relation of travel to medical care has endured over centuries as people have sacrificed much in search of panaceas and elixirs. Ponce de Leon’s search for the Fountain of Youth and pilgrimages to the healing waters at Lourdes are two notable historical examples. Today, a particularly striking movement is the ‘fertility tourist’ industry which has taken hold in Vietnam. In 1997, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) first became available in Vietnam through a transfer of technology and training from France. Since then, Vietnamese reproductive specialists have rapidly perfected their techniques and become so successful in producing pregnancies through IVF as to eclipse other more established IVF countries, such as China, which competes for the same revenues from the emerging market of medical tourism. Dr. Pashigian will show how these forms of globalized reproductive travel upset existing hierarchies of knowledge and power between countries. How are people, cultures, and things remade as IVF travels and as people travel for these services?