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CSEAS Lecture Series. The Spirit Ambulance: Choreographing the End of Life in Thailand

Scott Stonington, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, International Studies, and Internal Medicine, University of Michigan
Friday, January 29, 2021
12:00-1:00 PM
Free event; register at

From his recently released book, The Spirit Ambulance, Dr. Stonington will share stories from the deathbeds of Thai elders: their children’s attempts to pay back their “debts of life” via intensive medical care, and the ensuing “spirit ambulance,” a rush to get patients home from the ghost-infested hospital to orchestrate their final breath in a spiritually advantageous place. Out of these stories, Dr. Stonington will abstract outward from Thailand to Southeast Asia and the globe to examine the effects high-tech medicine on vital life transitions.

Scott Stonington is an anthropologist and physician. His primary appointment at U-M is in Anthropology and International Studies. He also practices hospitalist medicine at the VA Ann Arbor and primary care at Neighborhood Family Health Center in Ypsilanti. He has published on end of life and pain management in Thailand, Buddhism and the body, and the roles of improvisation and emotion in medical expertise in the U.S. He is also lead editor of the New England Journal of Medicine's "Case Studies in Social Medicine."

Stonington’s new book is a great read for anyone interested in the global dynamics of healthcare and biomedicine, globalization, rapidly expanding technology, comparing cultures and systems of meaning, and the way global forces act upon the lives of individuals worldwide.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Anthropology, Area Studies, Books, Cseas Lecture Series, Discussion, Lecture, Southeast Asia, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Southeast Asian Studies, International Institute, Program in International and Comparative Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, Department of Anthropology

International Institute Programming

The International Institute’s centers sponsor numerous conferences, lectures, exhibits, and cultural performances throughout the year. These events are designed to educate the university community and the public about global issues and inspire discussion and dialogue. 

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