Anthropology

    Research areas

  • Anthropology, Asian studies, Cross border reproductive care, Gender studies, Global medical travel/tourism, HIV/AIDS, Infertility and new reproductive technologies, International public health, Medical anthropology, Reproductive health, Research methodologies, Social isolation, Thailand, Women's health, TB, Antibiotic resistance

Biography

Associate Professor Andrea Whittaker is an ARC Future Fellow in Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts.

She has achieved international standing in the field of medical anthropology and is a Member-at-Large on the Board of the Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropology Association (2016-2019). Her current research projects include the study of global medical trade and mobility, reproductive travel and biotechnologies in the Asia Pacific, including issues of gender, religion, bioethcs and global regulation of the trade, and social isolation among HIV positive people in Queensland. Her research spans the disciplines of anthropology, international public health, Asian studies and gender studies.

Her ARC Future Fellowship project investigates cross border reproductive care- the movement of patients across international borders to undertake reproductive treatments, usually to avoid restrictions on services such as commercial surrogacy, egg donation, or sex selection. The research will generate new information relevant to bioethics, reproductive health, family formation, legal regulations and understanding the new Asian bioeconomies.

She is also continuing an ARC Discovery Project on other forms of medical travel in Thailand and Malaysia. This study will gather first hand experiences of patients seeking services at hospitals in these countries. Fieldwork for this project is currently being conducted. She is Chief Investigator on an ARC Linkage project on Contraceptive use among migrant woman in Melbourne which is exploring womens' choice and decision making with regards to various contraceptive technologies. She is also Chief Investigator on a collaborative ARC Linkage project entitled 'Living positive in Queensland: A qualitative longitudinal study of aging, place and social isolation'. This research will explore the intersections between the experience of living with HIV, aging and social isolation in diverse communities in regional and rural Queensland across time to inform planning for service delivery models.

Her most recent completed research, supported by an ARC grant, was on infertility and IVF and included a small preliminary study of reproductive tourism in Thailand. Long-term fieldwork took place in Thailand in 2007/2008.

In addition to her work in Thailand, she has been a Chief Investigator in a Large ARC grant on 'Perceived influences on family formation decisions in Australia,' in collaboration with demographers from the ANU. She has been involved in a number of other studies of public health importance in Australia. These included an early ethnography of general practice in an Australia community; this resulted in publications on general practice, environmental health and cancer, self-medication and cultural constructions of heart disease. She also collaborated on a GPEP funded grant on diabetes type II in NSW. She has collaborated on a UNFPA consultancy on maternal mortality in Timor Leste and is currently involved in the supervision and collaboration of projects on maternal morbidity in PNG and on the termination of pregnancy in the Northern Territory. She has also undertaken consultancy work for the WHO on medical travel.

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