1992 …2020
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Personal profile


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.

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
  • Social isolation
  • Thailand
  • Women's health
  • TB
  • Antibiotic resistance

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2010 2020

Research Output 1992 2019

Globalised quests for assisted conception: Reproductive travel for infertility and involuntary childlessness

Whittaker, A., Inhorn, M. C. & Shenfield, F., 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Global Public Health. 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia

Whittaker, A. M., 2019, 1 ed. New Brunswick Canada: Rutgers University Press. 225 p. (Medical Anthropology: Health, Inequality and Social Justice)

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

Open Access
4 Citations (Scopus)

Moralities in international medical travel: moral logics in the narratives of Indonesian patients and locally-based facilitators in Malaysia

Chee, H. L. & Whittaker, A., 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Sociality and transnational social space in the making of medical tourism: local actors and Indonesian patients in Malaysia

Chee, H. L., Whittaker, A. & Por, H. H., 2019, In : Mobilities. 14, 1, p. 87-102 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Activities 2012 2019

  • 6 Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board
  • 1 Submissions to industry or govt committees, commissions and inquiries
  • 1 Editorial responsibility

Public Consultation on Australia’s Next Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2020 and Beyond

Mark Davis (Contributor), Andrea Whittaker (Contributor)
12 Jun 2019

Activity: External Academic EngagementSubmissions to industry or govt committees, commissions and inquiries

EASTS: East Asian Science and Technology Studies (Journal)

Andrea Whittaker (Editorial board member)

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial responsibility

Board of the Society for Medical Anthropology (External organisation)

Andrea Whittaker (Member)
18 Nov 201618 Nov 2019

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Australian National University (External organisation)

Andrea Whittaker (Member)
11 Sep 201611 Sep 2018

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Women's Caucus of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (External organisation)

Andrea Whittaker (Member)
7 Sep 201211 Sep 2012

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board