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The Australian National University

Dr Graham Fordham

Ph.D. Anthropology (Adelaide 1991)
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Anthropology Not Elsewhere Classified 160199
  • Public Health And Health Services Not Elsewhere Classified 111799

Research interests

  • The social construction of disease epidemics
  • The effective use of qualitative research methodology in health research
  • Cooperative research between qualitative researchers and researchers trained in the biomedical sciences
  • The effective implementation of development/aid/health policy
  • RH/ARH policy, program development/programming/program evaluation
  • HIV/AIDS policy development and project development/implementation/evaluation
  • HIV/AIDS risk reduction activities
  • Homeless children/street children/child prostitution/youth substance abuse
  • Alchohol and other substance abuse
  • Domestic violence in Southeast Asia
  • Monitoring the social impact of AIDS
  • The trafficking of women and children including anti-trafficking IEC and reintegration/sustainable livelihood, advocacy.
  • Gender issues including masculinity and gender based violence, and pornography
  • Impact of development and social change on gender and health, including sexual health
  • Prostitution/its organisation and health impacts
  • Urban and rural IEC/IE/BC health/social program activities
  • Religion and social change
  • Buddhist/Christian relations


I teach  "Qualitative Methodologies in Health Research", "Anthropological Approaches to Health Interventions" (which contrasts individual approaches with structural approaches for understanding and transforming people's health), and "Anthropological Concepts for Health Research: From Risk to Suffering", in the Master of Culture Health and Medicine degree in the Medical School at the Australian National University, and supervise doctoral research students who are drawing on anthropological methods and theory to conduct research on topics related to health and biomedicine. I have also taught at other Australian universities including: The University of Southern Queensland, Griffith University, Deakin University and The University of Adelaide, and have also taught in Cambodia at Pannasastra University (Phnom Penh) and Webster International University in Thailand.

Over the past thirty years I have conducted anthropological fieldwork and consultancy throughout much of mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam), in the sub-Saharan AIDS belt in Africa and in urban Australia. I have worked on a wide range of development and development health issues including: HIV/AIDS/STIs, developing models for behaviour change, developing models of male risk behaviour, prostitution, reproductive health/adolescent reproductive health, substance abuse (alcohol), the trafficking of women and children, the impact of pornography on children and youth, gender-based violence, street children/child protection, masculinity, gender and youth sexuality. My most recent work concerns an exploration of the muting of critical social science (particularly anthropology) in contexts of biomedical and social science interdisciplinary research in the health and development fields.

My current research interests focus on a critical anthropology of biomedicine and public/global health and on the roles played by these "disciplines" in the surveillance and control of populations in the neoliberal state. Alongside this I am currently writing a monograph titled "Thinking Like an Anthropologist". This book is designed to explain and demystify what it is that anthropologists do and the processes and bodies of material that they draw on as they work their way into an analysis, and it argues for a critical, political and engaged anthropology.

Researcher's projects

Some Recent Projects

2006 – 2007 - UNFPA Vietnam (Hanoi) – Evaluation of Country Plan Six (2001-2005)

2006 – World Vision Cambodia (Phnom Penh/Chulkiri/Luekdaek) – Study the impact of print and video pornography on adolescent sexual behaviour and on the development of gender roles

2005 – World Vision Cambodia (Phnom Penh/Kandal Stung)- Situational analysis of gender-based violence in Kandal Stung district, pornography and male sexual scripts and notions of gender and masculinity.

 2004 – Policy Project Cambodia/USAID (Phnom Penh) – Reporting on Cambodian adolescent reproductive health policy.

 2002 – Policy Project Cambodia (Phnom Penh) - Analyse the state of adolescent reproductive health in Cambodia and make recommendations regarding policy development

2002 - World Vision Cambodia (Phnom Penh) – Analysis of data concerning HIV/AIDS and youth prostitution.

2001 – International Organisation for Migration (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – Develop an anti-trafficking IEC to combat the trafficking of women and children


Current student projects

  • HIV/AIDS and harm reduction amongst Indonesian drug users
  • The impact of anti-retroviral health regimes on the lives of young Taiwanese men
  • An exploration of women’s agency in casual sexual encounters in Tasmania
  • The impact of pornography on the lives and sexual practices of young Chinese men and women
  • An exploration of the lives of Australian transgender youth
  • Traditiona healing practices in Australian Aboriginal communities and an exploration of how biomedicine and other structural "powers" constrain treatment choices


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Updated:  22 October 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers