Dr Natasha Fijn

PhD Anthropology (ANU), PG Dip Natural History Film and Communication (Otago), MSc Ethology (hons), BSc Zoology and Ecology (Canterbury)
Research Fellow
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Visual Cultures 190104
  • Animal Behaviour 060801
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences Not Elsewhere Classified 079999
  • History And Philosophy Of Medicine 220205
  • Other History And Archaeology 2199
  • Biological (Physical) Anthropology 160102

Research interests

Visual anthropology, visual culture research, observational filmmaking, natural history filmmaking, animal studies, ecological humanities, environmental humanities, animal domestication, Mongolia, Yolngu in Arnhem Land, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Ethnomedicine, Mongolian Medicine, multispecies ethnography


Natasha Fijn is an ethnographic researcher and observational filmmaker based at the ANU Mongolia Institute. Her ongoing interest is in cross-cultural perceptions and attitudes towards other animals; as well as the use of the visual, particularly observational filmmaking, as an integral part of her research. Her ethnographic fieldwork has been based in the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia and Arnhem Land in northern Australia, involving engagement with human-animal relations and concepts of domestication. Since 2016 her research focus has been on multispecies medicine in Mongolia.

She was awarded a Fejos Fellowship in Ethnographic Film, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation to make a film 'Two Seasons: multispecies medicine in Mongolia' during 2017. She was a research fellow within an international team ‘Domestication in the Era of the Anthropocene’ at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Oslo in 2016. Earlier, she held a College of the Arts and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the ANU (2011-2014). Part of this project 'Encountering Animals' included the making of a film 'Yolngu Homeland' (2015). She has edited a number of themed issues on visual anthropology and observational filmmaking. A monograph, ‘Living with Herds: human-animal coexistence in Mongolia’ was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and was recently released in paperback. 

Researcher's projects

Mongolian Medicine: the transfer of different modes of multispecies knowledge (2016- )

Mongolian herding communities have developed unique forms of multispecies medical knowledge: taking the human family, the extended family of herd animals and the surrounding ecology as a basis. This knowledge across species is still practiced today and contributes to the health and wellbeing of local nomadic herding communities. Our project aims to investigate Mongolian medical practices in humans and other animals through the lens of One Health, employed within biomedicine and veterinary sciences, in conjunction with a multispecies approach gaining momentum within the social sciences. We are investigating how Mongolian communities have perceived cross-species illness and disease over time and how Mongolian medicinal knowledge supplements biomedical knowledge. Through observations and interviews with herding communities and medical practitioners, in conjunction with text based studies, our interdisciplinary team is exploring how multispecies knowledge is conveyed across generations, how such an approach may have changed over time and the foundations for this knowledge.

We have three key aims for this project:

1) A focus on how knowledge of Mongolian medicine is transmitted within different local settings (herding communities, local clinics, Buddhist monasteries, hospitals).

2) Initiating scholarship on Mongolian medicine, which breaks down species boundaries, across the borders of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China.

3) Bringing an interdisciplinary team from the social sciences and the biosciences into collaboration with one another to investigate the Mongolian medical perspective relating to the concept of One Health and to contribute toward a comprehensive knowledge of multispecies medicine.

Encountering Animals: connections between Yolngu and significant animals in Arnhem Land (2011-2014)

Over millennia, Aboriginal Australians from Arnhem Land have lived in distinctive ways with animals, developing intertwined histories during an exceptionally long period of engagement.  Northeast Arnhem Land is home to Yolngu, who live in remote communities and on country that is remarkably ecologically intact in comparison with other parts of coastal Australia.  The 'Encountering Animals' project encompassed observational filmmaking and the use of other visual material as research tools. Natasha investigated social, cultural and ecological relationships between individual Yolngu and significant animals, such as the crocodile, honeybee, dog/dingo and snake. One outcome of the project was a documentary, Yolngu Homeland: living with ancestral beings' (2016, 58 mins). Ultimately the intention was to provide a greater insight into Yolngu world view with regard to animals. 




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Updated:  21 September 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers