Claudia Merli is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, specialised primarily in Medical Anthropology, and secondarily in the critical anthropological study of disasters. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in Southern Thailand among the Malay-Muslims since 2002. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary project on hazard and respiratory health related to volcanic ash, funded by Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC), and has conducted fieldwork in Japan.
Keywords: disaster risk reduction disaster vulnerability gender and sexuality medical anthropology body theory thailand ethnic politics and implicit attitudes reproductive rights population control volcanology identity border conflict gender and disasters japan
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I am a Cultural Anthropologist specialising in anthropology of health/medical anthropology. My PhD research and dissertation (2008) in Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala University focused on reproductive health and bodily practices of Muslim women in Southern Thailand, and is published by Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. The book has been reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 2010 and I was invited to present it at the Royal Anthropological Institute's prestigious seminar series 'Reviewer Meets Reviewed' held at the British Museum (October 2011).
Indicators of esteem 2014—2017 Elected member of ASEASUK Executive Committee / 2015 Country of Origin Information (COI) expert with special knowledge of FGM for Rights In Exile Programme http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/thailand / 2013 Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute / 2013 Swedish National Agency for Higher Education: Nominated member of the expert panel to evaluate education in ethnology and anthropology / 2012—2017 Member of the Medical Anthropology Committee of The Royal Anthropological Institute, UK / 2012 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy United Kingdom.
Editorial positions 2015–2018 Invited member of the Editorial Board of Human Remains and Violence (Manchester University Press) / 2009–2017 General Editor of Durham Anthropology Journal (DAJ)
Other interests During my undergraduate studies I pursued my long-term musical passion and obtained a Diploma of Piano from the Conservatoire of Perugia, followed by one year at the Experimental School of Chamber Music at ’S. Cecilia' Conservatoire in Rome. I was active in both chamber music ensembles and as solo pianist until 2002. My drive for music has recently translated into joining the vibrant activity of the Durham Gamelan Society, where I am learning Javanese gamelan music. In 2014 I have attended a Taiko (Japanese drumming) workshop.
Research focus At present my broad research interest is the Southeast Asian region and Thailand, and I am conducting fieldwork in Southern Thailand on male and female genital cutting, gendered bodily practices related to reproduction, Buddhist and Muslim female spirit mediums, ethno-religious conflict in Southern Thailand, and the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. I am also investigating matters of fertility and population growth in Thailand's policies.
In 2016 I have started fieldwork in Japan with a project on local perceptions on health and volcanic ash, in the area of the Sakurajima volcano, as part of the HIVE consortium (Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions) http://community.dur.ac.uk/hive.consortium/about.php for which I am responsible for the qualitative research.
Theoretically, my main aim is to investigate the possibilities offered by the intersections between Foucauldian biopower, biopolitics, governmentality, and phenomenological perspectives on the body, putting the body in context. For my other strand of research, I apply critical perspectives in risk research and anthropological study of post-hazard social processes, especially theological discourses, contextual theodicies and related politics.
Fieldwork Thailand: July –August 2002; July–August 2003; February–April 2004, June–August 2004, November 2004–March 2005; March–June 2006; April and December 2009–January 2010; December 2010–January 2011; October–November 2014 archival research in Bangkok; March–April 2015; July 2019 / Japan May and September 2016 / Italy March–April and September–October 2017.
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