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The Australian National University

Dr Natasha Fijn

PhD (ANU), PG Dip NHFC (Otago), MSc (hons), BSc (Canterbury)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences and ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Environmental Knowledge 050201
  • Visual Cultures 190104
  • Animal Behaviour 060801
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences Not Elsewhere Classified 079999
  • Philosophy Of Specific Cultures (Incl. Comparative Philosophy) 220316
  • History And Philosophy Of Medicine 220205

Research interests

Visual anthropology, visual culture research, observational filmmaking, natural history filmmaking, animal studies, ecological humanities, environmental humanities, animal domestication, etho-ethnology or ethno-ethology, Mongolia, herders and herd animals, Yolngu in Arnhem Land, Indigenous ecological knowledge, ethnomedicine, Traditional Mongolian Medicine


Natasha has recently been hosted overseas as a Visiting Fellow at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale in Paris, the University of Aarhus and at the University of Oslo in relation to her research on animal domestication and human-animal relations. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Research in Oslo in 2016. Natasha is based within the Mongolia Institute at the ANU. 

Her continued research focus is on more-than-human social relations and animal domestication; as well as the use of visual mediums, particularly observational filmmaking, as an integral part of her research.  She has worked in two main field locations: in the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia and in northeast Arnhem Land. 

Natasha was a College of the Arts and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at the ANU from 2011-2014. She coordinated courses within the Masters of Visual Culture Research Program at the ANU from 2010-2015. She has edited a number of themed journal issues on multispecies and observational filmmaking and is currently multimedia review editor for The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. A monograph on her PhD research, ‘Living with Herds: human-animal coexistence in Mongolia’ was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.




Researcher's projects

A 'One Health' approach: health and wellbeing on the Grassland Steppes of Mongolia (2016- )

Many of the widespread diseases in humans are contracted through contact with other animals, particularly those living in close proximity with humans.  In the western medical tradition, treating animals through veterinary care has been quite separate from human medical care, indicative of the epistemological divide between nature and culture. There is, however, growing recognition of the need for a ‘One Health’ approach, accepting that disease and illness readily cross the species barrier as zoonoses. Combating zoonotic diseases requires the treatment of both humans and animals, a strategy that has been employed within Traditional Mongolian Medicine (TMM) for hundreds, even thousands of years. The focus of the project is on the ways in which Mongolian herders use One Health to treat their families and their herd animals, as a means of understanding pastoralist knowledge toward other beings in a changing and increasingly Anthropogenic landscape. Part of a Mongolian herding family’s daily existence is in the treatment of illnesses, of family members and herd animals, using a vast array of techniques and an impressive knowledge of local medicinal plants. Of significance are herders’ ideas about the causation of illness and their subsequent preventative measures. This research is important in terms of retaining some of the wealth of medicinal knowledge that is passed on from one generation to another in Mongolia. 


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:  23 March 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers