Society of Medical Anthropology in Aotearoa Symposium, 5 December 2018

The 2018 SOMAA Symposium will be held in the Wood Seminar Room (OK 406) at Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn Campus.

The Symposium fee is NZ$10 and registrations are required due to limited space. RSVP to Catherine Trundle to secure your space.

The Symposium will be followed by dinner in town; if you wish to join us, please express interest by email when you register (it will be at a reasonably priced set rate).

Symposium Programme

9:00am Coffee and Registration

9:30am Opening Welcome

10-11am First Session
Mythily Meher (University of Melbourne): Paper - Moral and Ethical Questions of “Diagnostic Agnosticism” in the Field
To what extent can a researcher act on information about the mental wellbeing of a participant? What are our moral and ethical responsibilities?

Tarapuhi Vaeau (Victoria University of Wellington): Paper - Exploring possibilities for historical trauma theory informed wellbeing models in contemporary Aotearoa
What are the advantages of a historical trauma framework that calls for de-individualised, intergenerational approaches to health, wellbeing and healing-based interventions?

Hannah Gibson (Victoria University of Wellington): Paper - Defying the conventional – a partial anthropologist
How might anthropology look if we think beyond the ‘normal’ idea of the anthropologist as an able-bodied person, and instead consider other ways that ethnographic research might be done?

11–11:15am Break

11:15am-12:15pm Second Session
Barbara Andersen (Massey University, Albany): Paper - Fencing, Cleaning, Straightening and Adorning: Spatializing Practices and Community Health in Papua New Guinea
How are spatializing practice—fencing, cleaning, straightening, and adorning—used to promote community health in rural Papua New Guinea?

Sam Taylor-Alexander (Monash): Paper - Biopolitics and the Entrepreneurial State: An “Assemblage Ethnography”
Why would a genomics company in the business of developing, manufacturing, and marketing genomics tools offer its commodities free of charge? How might an assemblage ethnographic approach help to understand these issues?

Susanna Trnka (University of Auckland): Paper - Traversing: From ‘Being There’ to ‘Being There’ as a Route to Examining Human Experience
How does the concept of “traversing” help medical anthropologists to understand our ways of seeing, experiencing, and moving through the world, and the kinds of persons we become by partaking in them?

12:15-1:45pm Lunch

During the lunch break participants will have the option of attending the March for Reproductive Rights at parliament for an hour. There will also be a SOMAA social media campaign on this issue that attendees can participate in if they wish.

Across the day look out for Pauline Herbst (University of Auckland): Poster - Comics and Medical Anthropology
How might comics work as a tool to communicate and engage diverse audiences beyond the academy?

1:45-3:00pm Third Session
Julie Spray (University of Auckland): Paper - Drawing perspectives together: coproducing visual ethnography in medical anthropology
What forms of knowledge are coproduced when ethnographer and participants engage in drawing together?

Susan Wardell (University of Otago) and Catherine Trundle (Victoria University of Wellington): Conversation - Ethnographic poetry and the poetics of ethnography in medical anthropology
What might ethnographic poetry and poetic ethnography offer medical anthropology?

Tanisha Jowsey and Richard Smith (producers) (University of Auckland): Film Screening - Prepared to Care
How are health care professional students – pharmacy, medicine, nursing and paramedicine – learning to manage the tough aspects of patient care?

3:00-3:15pm Break

3:15-4pm Fourth Session
Pauline Herbst (i3, Waitemata DHB): Paper - Charting New Courses: Medical Anthropology in the DHB
What are the underlying differences between clinical and anthropological approaches to understanding community healthcare needs, and how might clinical and medical anthropological partnerships address Aotearoa’s unique healthcare needs?

Julie Park (University of Auckland): Work in Progress: Research on the use of TB isolates grown from diagnostic sputum samples: or discovering citizenship, care and respect
Drawing on a multidisciplinary and participatory research project, we ask, what are the issues and sensitivities around pathogens that have spent some of their life in a human body?

4:00-4:15pm Break

4:15-5:15pm SOMAA AGM (OK 501)

5:30-6:30pm SOMAA Keynote (HULT 220)
Sonja Van Wichelen (University of Sydney)
How Science and Law Co-Produce Shit as Medicine: On Postcolonial Technosciences in the Postgenomic Age

7:30pm Dinner in town (location TBC)

For more information and updates, visit the SOMAA 2018 Symposium Facebook event page.

ASAA/NZ 2018 Conference will be held on 6-7 December at Massey University's Wellington Campus, Aotearoa New Zealand

The 2018 ASAA/NZ Conference is jointly convened by Social Anthropology at Massey University and Cultural Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington.

The conference will be held at Massey University's Wellington Campus, Wallace Street, Mount Cook. You can find information about maps, transport and parking here and in our conference booklet. The registration desk will be located in the Flax & Fern room just above Tussock Bar and Café.  

Conference theme: Improvising Lives

 Our conference booklet cover was designed by Amy Haarhoff. Having finished her studies in Social Anthropology at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus, Amy is currently exploring her love of art. She plans to begin an MA in Illustration in the New Year, and hopes to pursue a career as an illustrator-author.

Our conference booklet cover was designed by Amy Haarhoff. Having finished her studies in Social Anthropology at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus, Amy is currently exploring her love of art. She plans to begin an MA in Illustration in the New Year, and hopes to pursue a career as an illustrator-author.

‘Lives’ are stories lived and written, modes of dwelling and becoming, modes of habitation and co-habitation, modes of accommodation and making do. Lives rarely unfold according to plan; lives are improvised. The 2018 ASAA/NZ Conference aims to consider how we are all Improvising Lives. The notion of ‘improvisation’ evokes images of the unplanned, the precarious, the provisional, the partial, the imperfect, the risky, the fearful, the playful, the imaginative, the joyful, the performative, struggles to make ends meet. Yet, improvisation is often not simply acting without a script, but deeply social, highly coordinated, and intimately reflective of existing worlds of meaning, their histories, inequalities, and discontents We have chosen Improvising Lives as the theme for the 2018 ASAA/NZ conference in the hope that paper contributors and participants will be encouraged to reflect on ways that these ideas emerge within, resonate with, or inform their ethnographic research and writing. 

The notion of improvised lives prompts questions such as: How is improvisation fundamental to the practice of world-making? What kinds of improvisational practices make life liveable? What kinds of improvisation emerge in moments of austerity, authoritarianism, or environmental collapse? What kinds of social coordination underlie the improvisation of life? How can a more robust engagement with improvisation fortify contemporary anthropological methods? How can ‘theoretical story-telling’ (McGranahan 2015) about improvised lives better inform critiques of systems of power and rationality?

Our conference this year welcomes anthropologists from around the world speaking to this theme in multiple ways and across topics and disciplines, and we’re sure it will be a thought-provoking and stimulating couple of days for all.

Keynote speakers

Carole McGranahan, Professor of Anthropology, History, and Tibetan Studies at the University of Colorado.

Rob Thorne (Ngati Tumutumu), taonga pūoro composer and performer.

Conference programme

Please refer to the ASAA/NZ 2018 conference programme booklet for details, including information about how to get to the venue, nearby cafes, as well as the schedule of panels and abstracts. The programme is subject to change and updates will be signalled at the registration desk and distributed through email should they be required. For those on Twitter, you can follow @ASAANZinfo and the conference hashtag, #ASAANZ2018

Thursday 6 December
9:00-11am: Registration, Pōwhiri, Keynote performance by Rob Thorne, and morning tea
11:00am-12:30pm: Panel presentations, Visual workshop
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch and film screening
1:30-3:30pm: Panel presentations
3:30-5:00pm: Keynote by Carole McGranahan
5:15-6:30pm: Postgraduate workshop (with Carole McGranahan)
7:00-10:00pm: Conference dinner

Friday 7 December
9:00-10:30am: Panel presentations, Mahi Tahi 1
10:30-11:00am: Morning tea
11:00am-12:30pm: Panel presentations, Mahi Tahi 2
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch and ASAA/NZ AGM
1:30-3:00pm: Panel presentations
3:00-5:00pm: Panel presentations
5:00pm: Presentation of Dr Cyril Timo Schäfer Memorial Graduate Student Conference Presentation Awards
5:15pm: Farewell drinks


Conference registration is now open. To register, please fill out the 2018 ASAA/NZ Conference Registration Form.

Early bird conference registration pricing (ends 31 October 2018) 

Early bird standard registration rate: NZD$160.00
Early bird student registration rate: NZD$135.00

Conference registration pricing (standard rate applies from 1 November 2018)

Standard registration rate: NZD$180.00
Standard student registration rate: NZD$150.00

Conference dinner

Our conference dinner will be held in the evening on Thursday 6 December at Saigon Van Grill Bar, 201 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington. It is a set menu for the set price of NZD$40.00. Please register for the dinner when you complete your conference registration.


Wellington Management Group has a room block of 10 rooms across three different properties available for 4-8 December 2018. This caters to those attending the SOMAA Symposium as well as our ASAA/NZ conference.

These rooms are bookable direct with each property and are on a first in, first served basis.

Please ensure you are prepared to offer a credit card to secure your reservation.

The bookings are required to be made by November 4th at the latest. All rooms left unbooked by November 4th will be released.

Please see the contact information for each property below:

Park Hotel - 2 x Executive studios, NZ$219 per night
Phone: (04) 260 5000

Liberty Apartment Hotel - 3 x One bedroom apartments, NZ$189 per night
Phone: (04) 830 0993

The Setup on Manners - 5 x Queen studios, NZ$109 per night
Phone: (04) 830 0990

10 Rooms have been placed on hold at the Comfort Hotel, Wellington. Each room can be shared by two people.

5 Double at $165.00/per night (Includes full buffet breakfast at CQ Restaurant)

5 King at 188.00/per night (Includes full buffet breakfast at CQ Restaurant)

Room descriptions are here:

Delegates quote code ASAA18 to get the ASAA/NZ rates. Guests will need to book either by phone/email to book these rooms: After 5 November unused rooms will be released. Guests will still be able to book, however rooms will be subject to availability.