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Personal profile

Supervision interests

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.

Research interests

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.

External positions

Fellow, Global Young Academy

20 May 201620 May 2021

Honorary Affiliate, The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research

2 Mar 2016 → …


  • tuberculosis
  • medical anthropology
  • choreomusicology
  • ethnomusicology
  • dance anthropology
  • bioethics

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

Projects 2018 2020

Understanding the socio-cultural dimensions of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea: Knowledge to optimise public health solutions

Kelly-Hanku, A. M., Graham, S. M., Vallely, A., Majumdar, S., Marais, B., Pomat, W. S., Bell, S. & Mason, P.


Project: Research

Research Output 2011 2018

Cures, tuberculosis, and deterritorialized biomedical narratives

Mason, P. H., Fox, G. J., Ho, J. & Degeling, C., 2018, In : Public Culture. 30, 2, p. 269-276 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

Neurosocialities: Anthropological Engagements with the Neurosciences

Gardner, J. G., Warren, N. L., Mason, P. H. & Dominguez Duque, J. F., 3 Apr 2018, In : Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness. 37, 3, p. 189-193 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review

Open Access

Another stage of development: Biological degeneracy and the study of bodily ageing

Mason, P. H., Maleszka, R. & Dominguez Duque, J. F., 2017, In : Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. 163, p. 46–51 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Activities 2017 2018

  • 5 Contribution to conference
  • 4 Contribution to workshop, seminar, course
  • 1 Editorial responsibility

PLoS ONE (Journal)

Paul Mason (Editor in chief)
2018 → …

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial responsibility

Psychedelic Entanglements

John Gardner (Organiser), Adrian Carter (Organiser), Narelle Warren (Organiser), Paul Mason (Organiser)
22 Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to workshop, seminar, course

7th Tuberculosis Centre for Research Excellence Symposium

Paul Mason (Organiser)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to workshop, seminar, course

Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018

Paul Mason (Organiser)
12 May 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to workshop, seminar, course

Asian Bioethics Review Research Conference

Paul Mason (Organiser)
24 May 201726 May 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference

Press / Media

World TB Day Interview

Paul Mason


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

World TB day radio interview

Paul Mason


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

Time to see TB patients as true champions in the fight against the disease

Paul Mason & Anna K. Coussens


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities