Department of Social Anthropology

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Ayurvedic Medical Tourism in Kerala: Frontstage and Backstage

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By Linn Palmstrøm

Supervisor: Professor Anne Karen Bjelland

From September 1st 2011 to February 9th 2012 I conducted fieldwork at two ayurvedic clinics located in the periphery of a well- known tourist location in Kerala, India. I also researched on people who received treatment who I refer to as ayurvedic medical patients throughout this thesis. Medical tourism, in particular the North- South flow of medical tourism is considered to be new.

My thesis concern ayurvedic medical tourism. With Erving Goffman’s concepts of frontstage and backstage as a point of departure, I seek to explore two sides of ayurvedic medical tourism. The frontstage perspective is how ayurveda is marketed and experienced through treatments. The backstage perspective will be presented from empirical examples from a small-secluded room of a medium-sized clinic. Through empirical examples I explore the topics of reciprocity, joking, overhearing and punishment.