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Department of Social Anthropology

 

Research

My Doctorate research focuses on experiences of endometriosis amongst women* in Australia, an area of study that has been severely neglected in anthropological engagement. I argue that the lack of study within anthropology on endometriosis is symptomatic of a larger lack of engagement with the topic of menstruation itself as an embodied experience with social dimensions, that goes beyond superficial claims of blood’s symbolic dimension. As such, my research seeks to explore the various manifestations and experiences of pain that come with endometriosis, the journeys to diagnosis, and the lasting impacts of this condition on interior and social selves. It also seeks to analyse clinical responses to such ‘menstrual dysfunctions’ to study the relationships women* with endometriosis have with their doctors and with normative ideas of menstruation; and to study how women with menstrual dysmenorrhea form communities and activisms through charity organisations.

Before my PhD, I researched the experiences of chronic pain amongst young adults in Cambridge for my Undergraduate Dissertation at Cambridge University. This work tied together literature on chronic pain, embodiment and phenomenology, and medical anthropology more widely to explore how young adults — mainly students at the University of Cambridge — experience chronic pain and come to terms with it, as well as analysing the social impact of the ways in which they do so. In this, I argued that for my informants, their chronic pain was a condition in which the liminal categories of ‘illness’ and ‘pain’ become permanent, in which invisible pain must be communicated in an agentive way, and in which lay-understandings of mind-body dualisms are contested and reconfigured. This research therefore analysed how young adults used these terms and concepts in navigating their identities and relationships as part of a life lived with chronic pain.

*While I use the term women and feminine pronouns, I nevertheless acknowledge individuals in the transgender and non-binary communities who may not identify as women and suffer from endometriosis.

 

Research Title: ‘Normal’ Bodies in Pain: Menstruation, Dysmenorrhea and Endometriosis among Women in Sydney
Supervisor: Dr Perveez Mody

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