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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.


  • 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

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Projects 2010 2020

Research Output 2009 2018

Conceptualising Asian medical travel as medical migrations

Whittaker, A. 2018 Routledge Handbook of Asian Migrations. Farrar , G. L. & Yeoh , B. S. A. (eds.). 1st ed. Oxon UK: Routledge, p. 114-127 14 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

HIV testing in men who have sex with men: A follow-up review of the qualitative literature since 2010

Lui, C-W., Dean, J., Mutch, A., Mao, L., Debattista, J., Lemoire, J., Howard, C. B., Whittaker, A., Hollingdrake, O. & Fitzgerald, L. 2018 In : AIDS and Behavior. 22, 2, p. 593-605 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

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

Whittaker, A. M., Chee, . H. L. & Heong Hong, P. 2018 (Accepted/In press) In : Mobilities. 14, 1, p. 1-16 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Understanding media publics and the antimicrobial resistance crisis

Davis, M., Whittaker, A., Lindgren, M., Djerf-Pierre, M., Manderson, L. & Flowers, P. 2018 In : Global Public Health. 13, 9, p. 1158-1168 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in Hanoi, Vietnam

Ha, V. S., Whittaker, A. & Rodger, S. 2017 In : Journal of Child and Family Studies. 26, 1, p. 1334–1344 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Activities 2012 2018

  • 6 Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board
  • 1 Editorial responsibility

EASTS: East Asian Science and Technology Studies (Journal)

Whittaker, A. M. (Editorial board member)

Activity: Editorial responsibility

Board of the Society for Medical Anthropology (External organisation)

Whittaker, A. M. (Member)
18 Nov 201618 Nov 2019

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Australian National University (External organisation)

Whittaker, A. M. (Member)
11 Sep 201611 Sep 2018

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Asian Studies Association of Australia (External organisation)

Whittaker, A. M. (Member)
11 Sep 2012

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Women's Health Advocacy Network, Thailand (External organisation)

Whittaker, A. M. (Member)
11 Sep 2012

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board