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1992 …2024

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Personal profile


Professor Andrea Whittaker is in the Sociology and Anthropology Program in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and is Director of the Social and Political Science Higher Degree by Research program.  

She has achieved international standing in the field of medical anthropology and is a former ARC Future Fellow.  Her current research projects include the study of global medical trade and mobility, oocyte mobilities in Southern Africa; reproductive travel and biotechnologies in the Asia Pacific, including issues of gender, religion, bioethics and global regulation of the trade, antimicrobial resistance, and social isolation among HIV positive people in Queensland. Her research spans the disciplines of anthropology, international public health, Asian studies and gender studies. She was Member-at-Large on the Board of the Society for Medical Anthropology, American Anthropology Association (2016-2019). She was a Co- Leader of the Health and Biofutures Focus Program at Monash University and a Lead Researcher for the Centre for Impact on AMR, a cross-faculty centre at Monash University.  

She leads a current ARC funded- anthropological study of the global networks and emerging markets for assisted reproduction in Southern Africa, focussing upon the mobilities of regional patients, ova providers and medical staff across and to and from Southern Africa. In this she collaborates with colleagues from University of Amsterdam and University of the Witwatersrand. She also leads an ARC DP project on uterus transplantation with colleagues from University of Sydney and the University of Texas in Austin. She was also a CI on a ARC project lead by Assoc Professor Mark Davis on antimicrobial resistance in Australia and is involved in social science research on AMR in Malaysia with colleagues from Monash Malaysia and SEACO and another on AMR survivors in Australia.  

Her ARC Future Fellowship project investigated 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 led a fomer ARC Discovery Project on other forms of medical travel in Thailand and Malaysia. This study gathered first-hand experiences of patients seeking services at hospitals in these countries. Fieldwork for this project is currently being conducted. She was Chief Investigator on an ARC Linkage project on Contraceptive use among migrant women in Melbourne which is exploring womens' choices and decision-making with regards to various contraceptive technologies. She was 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.

Prior to this she completed an ARC Discovery Project on infertility and IVF in Thailand 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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

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

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or