I was trained in Asian Studies, with my early field research in Peninsular Malaysia. Over the past four decades, I have worked as a medical anthropologist and social historian of medicine on questions of public health among diverse populations in Australia, east and southeast Asia, and increasingly in Africa. My fields of research include questions of gender, sexuality and reproductive health; infectious and chronic disease; access to and ideologies of medical and health care; and disability and inequality. My sustained commitment to build research capacity includes my life long work with higher degree students in and from resource-poor settings, my involvement in CARTA (Collaboration for Advanced Research and Training in Africa), and from 1988 to the present, my continuous collaboration with the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease. My broad interests extend to interdisciplinary collaborations in the social and biosciences, humanities and creative arts, for social justice, human rights, and sustainability.
My key works include, in medical anthropology, Surface Tensions: Surgery, Bodily Boundaries and the Social Self; and in social history, Sickness and the State: Health and Illness in Colonial Malaya, 1870-1940. My latest work – The Routledge Handbook in Medical Anthropology – undertaken with Elizabeth Cartwright (Idaho State University) and Anita Hardon (University of Amsterdam) – was published in May 2016.