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Elisa J. Sobo

Medical travel is an inherently cross-cultural exercise. But what, exactly, does culture entail? How and where does it make its mark? This chapter demonstrates that we are all cultural beings, and that culture (biomedical culture included) is processual and porous rather than a static, self-contained, ethnically-anchored entity. The chapter then examines the various ways in which culture informs diverse dimensions of medical travel, including not only marketing, facilitation, and health services delivery, but also care seeking. Indeed, culture underwrites diverse health-related demand-side desires themselves, and motivates many of the varied secondary outcomes that patients, and families, strive for when undertaking medical travel. Culture also has important supply-side ramifications, as for subjective self-experience and local self-definition. As this chapter shows, an in-depth understanding of culture must be applied if we are to achieve full, fine-grained knowledge of medical travel’s varied forms, diverse purposes, and sundry ramifications.