BA (Hons) (UQ); PhD (UQ)


I am a medical anthropologist specialising in reproductive health within its broader social, cultural and political-economic context. I have engaged in ambitious multi-level and multi-sited ethnographies which have generated important ethnographic insights on: the appropriation of reproductive technologies such as contraception and IVF in diverse social-cultural settings and their efficacy in everyday life; the growth and consequences of international reproductive travel and commercial surrogacy in the region; spearheaded an innovative international study of hospital in-patients who have travelled for medical treatment and the consequences for their care; explored the dynamics of living with HIV and chronic co-morbidities and consequences for policy-making in the provision of services; and cross disciplinary research on antimicrobial resistance, collaborating with colleagues within the ‘Monash Centre for Impact on AMR’. I have worked in numerous settings in SE Asia. The fieldwork for my work in clinical and other settings is often time consuming, politically sensitive and ethically complex with difficult-to-recruit populations. I am author of over 100 publications in leading international refereed journals and edited collections across anthropology and public health. These include four single authored books, 2 edited books and four edited special issues. I sit on the Board of the journal Medical Anthropology: Cross cultural studies in health and illness and EASTS (East Asian Science and Technology Studies) and have supervised over 25 HDR students to completion. 

My major contributions include my work on surrogacy and reproductive travel. In 2011 I was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship FT110100054 on cross-border reproductive travel in Asia and Australia. I undertook a multi-sited anthropological study of cross border reproductive travel involving periods of fieldwork in Thailand, India and Australia into the growth of a ‘disruptive’ industry of surrogacy and subsequent efforts to regulate it. Most recently I have been awarded an ARC Discovery Project (DP200101270) to undertake a study of emerging assisted reproduction markets in Southern Africa including the movement of ova donors and medical staff between Australia and South Africa as well as regional circuits. I am an International Collaborator on a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Grant ‘Changing In/Fertilities An international social scientific collaboration’ funding a network of 16 leading ethnographers on the translational significance of IVF technology, and its complex social and technological legacies.

I was one of the first anthropologists to take an academic interest in the growth of cross border health care mobility. A book on the lived experiences of patients travelling for serious medical conditions based on an ARC Discovery grant (DP 1094895) involving 119 interviews with patients and staff in five hospitals in Thailand and Malaysia is in preparation.

Much of my earlier ethnographic research was on women’s health and the termination of pregnancy, having completed major projects in Thailand (resulting in my books 2004, Abortion Sin and the State in Thailand and 2010, Abortion in Asia), and Timor Leste (for the UNFPA) and PhD student supervisions on the topic in Bangladesh, India and PNG. My work in Thailand fed into the reform of Thailand’s guidelines for terminations in 2010.  

Professor of Anthropology, Monash University


• 2011-2015 Australian Research Council Future Fellow (until May 2017). 

• 2015-16:  Senior Visiting Fellow, ReproSoc, Sociology, University of Cambridge 

• 2015-16:  Clare Hall Visiting Fellowship Cambridge University (now Life Member)

• 2011: Senior Visiting Fellowship, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

• 1996-1999: Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellowship


• Member, Australian Anthropological Society 

• Member, Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropology Association 

• Board Member of the Society for Medical Anthropology of the American Anthropology Association 2016-2019.

• Life Member. Clare Hall Cambridge University 


• 2000 : Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia Medal and Citation to a younger scholar for excellence in scholarship in the social sciences 

• 1990 : The Walter and Eliza Hall Travelling Scholarship.

• 1989 : Queensland University Medal for academic excellence.

• 1986 : Lizzie Heal-Warrie Prize, University of Queensland

1. Whittaker, AM 2019, ‘International Surrogacy as Disruptive Industry in Southeast Asia’, Rutgers University Press.

2. Whittaker, AM 2015, ‘Thai in Vitro: Gender, Culture and Assisted Reproduction’, Berghahn Books

3. Whittaker, A., Inhorn, M. C., & Shenfield, F. (2019). Globalised quests for assisted conception: reproductive travel for infertility and involuntary childlessness. Global Public Health, 14(12), 1669-1688.

4. Whittaker, A., Lohm, D., Lemoh, C., Cheng, A., & Davis, M. (2019). Investigating understandings of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in diverse ethnic communities in Australia: Findings from a qualitative study. Antibiotics, 8(3), [135].

5. Do, T. T. & Whittaker, A. 2020, Contamination, suffering and womanhood: Lay explanations of breast cancer in Central Vietnam Social Science and Medicine. 266, 113360.