Projects per year
As a cultural anthropologist by training, I supervise Honours, Masters and PhD students in a range of anthropology and anthropology-related projects. I have mentored postgraduate researchers at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, co-supervised Masters students in Pharmacy and PhD students in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and taught a selection of postgraduate students in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University. I am interested in supervising a broad range of postgraduate projects related to the anthropology of the body including topics in the fields of medical anthropology, bioethics, history and philosophy of science, ethnomusicology and dance anthropology.
My research spans a wide range of topics engaging with biological and cultural diversity. With fieldwork experience with arts communities in Indonesia and Brazil, religious minorities in Brazil and India, and infectious disease patients in Australia and Vietnam, I have contributed to theory and knowledge in the fields of ethnomusicology, medical anthropology, and complex systems theory. At the core of my broad research interests is a deep interest in the anthropology of the body and a sound capacity to constructively apply anthropological perspectives and systems thinking to a variety of problems.
For my PhD thesis, I studied West Sumatran, West Javanese and Afro-Brazilian rituals of combat-dancing. I conducted fieldwork in Indonesia and Brazil with the support of a Darmasiswa scholarship as well as Travel Grants from Macquarie International and the competitive Macquarie University Postgraduate Research Fund (Deputy Vice Chancellor's commendation). I supplemented fieldwork with archival research at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies with support from the Australia Netherlands Research Collaboration. This historical and ethnographic research was a really excellent opportunity to sink my teeth into apprenticeship anthropology and to develop a range of qualitative research skills that would serve me in postdoctoral research. I published my research findings in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and online media, and most notably co-edited "The Fighting Art of Pencak Silat and its Music" with Dr Uwe Paetzold from the Robert Schumann University of Music, Düsseldorf.
My first postdoctoral research fellowship took me to Vietnam to conduct an ethnographic study alongside a tuberculosis screening program coordinated by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research. My research on tuberculosis in Vietnam led to the development of an educational book for children that has been translated into over thirty languages. With the support of a seeding grant from the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Tuberculosis, I conducted fieldwork in Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam. I interviewed 75 people living with TB, facilitated focus-group discussions in several villages, and conducted participant-observation fieldwork in clinic, laboratory and community settings as well as semi-structured interviews with scientists, health care workers, administrators, and representatives of funding bodies involved with TB control and health care reforms in Vietnam. This research was focused on the illness experience and health-seeking behaviours of TB patients as well as the social, economic, and political dimensions of TB care and prevention. Connecting public policy with clinical practice, this research addressed the ethical and regulatory issues that impact upon diagnostic delay for tuberculosis disease in Vietnam. With a strong belief in social integration and a desire to live in a world free of the impoverished conditions that foster diseases such as tuberculosis, I continue to collaborate with clinical researchers, epidemiologists and laboratory scientists on key research questions in tuberculosis care and prevention.
During my second postdoctoral position, I conducted research into the ethics of biobanks in the context of globalisation at the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney. This work led to publications in Australasian Science, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Health, and the American Journal of Bioethics as well as presentations via selective submission of abstracts at the Australian Anthropology Society Annual Meeting (2016), The Australian Sociology Association conference (2016), the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law conference (2016), and the NZ Bioethics conference (2017). This NHMRC funded research project is ongoing and I continue to collaborate with investigators at the University of Sydney, Deakin University, Swinburne University and Australian National University.
With a strong belief in the value that anthropological research brings to a variety of problems, I work to bring anthropological research methods to specialist audiences outside the social sciences as well as to non-specialist audiences among the wider public. For example, I have constructively applied anthropological critiques of reductionism to develop new conceptual frameworks in scientific modelling in articles published in Biological Theory, BioSystems, Complexity, Briefings in Functional Genomics, and The Proceedings of the Royal Society B. I have also written popular articles in online magazines such as Croakey, Inside Indonesia and Macquarie Globe. In my research on tuberculosis, I work to promote the inclusion of anthropological theory and methods into a field traditionally dominated by quantitative research. This has meant packaging anthropological perspectives in a way that is appealing to researchers outside my discipline. I have co-authored articles published in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and the Journal of Biosocial Science that serve as pedagogical resources on anthropological theory and methods for specialist audiences. I also regularly speak on radio and write online pieces to engage with the public about contemporary issues.
Fellow, Global Young Academy20 May 2016 → 20 May 2021
Honorary Affiliate, The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research2 Mar 2016 → …
- medical anthropology
- dance anthropology
Understanding the socio-cultural dimensions of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea: Knowledge to optimise public health solutions
1/01/18 → 31/12/20
Research Output per year
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Other › peer-review
Invited Book Review of [One Blue Child: Asthma, Responsibility, and the Politics of Global Health. By Susanna Trnka, Stanford University Press, 2017]Mason, P. H., 2018, In : Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Review Article › Other
Research output: Contribution to journal › Editorial › Other › peer-review
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Research › peer-review
Activities per year
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Contribution to workshop, seminar, course
Paul Mason & Anna K. Coussens
1 media contribution
Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities