Workshop: Bodies across Borders: The global circulation of body parts, medical tourists and medical professionals

Fondation Brocher, Switzerland, 15 – 17 December 2010

The fields of medicine and healthcare are being transformed by new communications and biomedical technologies, which have facilitated marked increases in the global circulation of body parts, patients and medical professionals across national borders. These movements often echo other movements of capital and resources, traveling from rural to urban areas, from poor to rich, and from the Global South to the Global North. These movements also raise a number of specific concerns depending on the kind of body (body part, patient or professional) circulating. Consequently academic and policy debates tend to focus on particular issues and perspectives with little opportunity for scholars, policy makers and professionals in medicine and healthcare to discuss their experiences and share insights into the different ways in which bodies cross national borders.

This workshop will bring together researchers working on different kinds of bodily circulations within the global healthcare and medical environments to explore common themes, concerns and issues, including:

–       The underlying structural and economic inequalities between nations and peoples which drive much of the trade in bodily commodities and movements of medical tourists and medical professionals.

–       The impacts of these movements on the health care industry of the countries that supply medical professionals, healthcare services and body-parts (usually in the Global South) and the countries that receive medical professionals, services and body parts (usually in the Global North).

–       The challenge of reconciling the practices, standards and expectations of medical professionals and patients from different countries and healthcare traditions and the question of how and to what extent these circulations of healthcare workers, medical tourists and bodily commodities should be internationally monitored and regulated.

The one-and-a-half day workshop will be organised thematically, with three separate sessions each focusing on a different kind of circulation. This will then be followed by a round-table discussion, focused on the key research questions outlined above, in order to identify shared themes and connections, and possibilities for future collaborations and research relationships.

The workshop is organised by members of the Health, Place and Society research theme, based in the Department of Geography, Queen Mary University of London and is sponsored by the Fondation Brocher. The workshop will be hosted by the Fondation Brocher, at their centre in Hermance, Switzerland.

A workshop programme is available here.

There are currently places remaining, so if you’d like to register and have not already done so, please contact Beth Greenhough ( for a registration form, outlining your interest in the workshop. The deadline for registrations is the 30 October 2010.

There are opportunities at the event for participants to display research posters. If you are interested in doing so, please contact Beth Greenhough (

If you are seeking funding, there are two forms of bursaries we can offer:

(1) The Fondation Brocher has offered a small number of bursaries to cover the registration fees for PhD students or those on a low income who wish to attend. to apply for this participants should attach a brief (1 -side A4 letter) to their registration form outlining their case for support.

(2) We are also now able to offer two bursaries of £250(UK) towards travel and accommodation costs for participants who are based in low income countries in the Global South. These will be allocated on a competitive basis by a panel who will review all applications. If you wish to apply for these, you need to send a 1-side A4 letter outlining
(a) your interest in the workshop and (b) reasons for seeking funding, and a short CV to Beth Greenhough (

The deadline for applications is the 30th October, with decisions by 10th November.


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