My professional academic journey began when I started my PhD in 2006. I had the opportunity to conduct some sustained ethnographic research amongst the Paniya of Wayanad, a marginalised indigenous ethnic group in the South Indian state of Kerala, who were slaves until the latter part of the 20th century.
By going back and forth to India over a period of three years, I learned a lot about the importance of spirit possession, music/song, funeral rites and black magic healing rituals for the Paniya.
I am particularly interested in how the Paniya engage with policies of public health, development practice, environmental/resource management, native title, globalisation and governance. In essence, I explore the ways in which the Paniya attempt to maintain a sense of place, identity and well-being in a world where every body else keeps trying to tell them how to live and who to be.
I have taught at the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, the University of Wollongong, and the University of Notre Dame. The subjects I have taught include:
- Human Evolution and Diversity
- Introduction to Anthropology: Identity and Difference
- Educational Psychology
- Culture, Myth and Symbolism: Affect and Meaning
- Culture Health and Sexuality in Developing Countries
- Doing Ethnography
- Methodology in Local and Community Studies
- Research Methods in Anthropology
- The Anthropology of Politics and Power
- The Anthropology of Religion
- Teaching for Change
- Social Justice in a World of Inequality
- Becoming a Sociologist: Interdisciplinary Competencies
- Research Methods in Sociology and Cultural Studies
- Sociology of Teaching
- Healing and Culture
- Illness and Healing
- India: Power and Performance