Dr Pauline Herbst

PhD. MA (distinction). GradDip. BA(Hons) with distinction.

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Research Fellow


Pauline Herbst is a social anthropologist whose research broadly falls under four specialties: medical anthropology, the anthropology of childhood, narrative anthropology and graphic medicine/ anthropology. She has explored chronic illness and the socio-cultural effect of screening and diagnosis with the metabolic condition MCADD, respiratory disease COPD, and hysterectomy. Her doctoral work, a nationwide research project was conducted in the School of Social Sciences, Anthropology at the University of Auckland and she has a Masters with distinction in Anthropology from Rhodes University, South Africa. She is currently exploring health and well-being in relation to the global health of the environment.

Research | Current

Book Project: Growing Up with a Hidden Disorder: An Ethnography of the Metabolic Condition MCADD in New Zealand

This nationwide New Zealand study examines the daily lived experience of the first generation of children to be diagnosed with MCADD via newborn screening and uses a variety of methods to capture children’s perspectives across the age range, from newborn to age 10, along with those of family members and health professionals. These methods include participant observation, semi-structured interviews, photovoice, metaphor sort technique, body mapping, and storyboarding. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus I show that a body diagnosed with the potential for illness has as much capacity to transform a young life as illness itself. This thesis finds that personhood, as embodied and situated, is affected by the experiential, sensory knowledge of MCADD treatment (feeding and hospitalisation) in the first few years of life and that a shadow habitus remains even after moving through this phase of early prevention. The thesis structure itself reveals the shifting and elusive nature of the porous boundaries between illness, health and dis-ease, circling through a variety of situated perspectives and modes of storytelling.

Supervisors: Prof. Julie Park, Assoc. Prof. Judith Littleton. Advisor: Dr. Ruth Fitzgerald.

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 203 Thinking like a Social Anthropologist

ANTHRO 268 Ethnographic Encounters with the Environment

ANTRO 368 Ethnographic Encounters with the Environment

Areas of expertise

  • Medical anthropology
  • Anthropology of the child
  • Visual anthropology
  • Social anthropology
  • Identity and ethnicity
  • Religion and the politics of health.
  • Also media anthropology and the anthropology of design.
  • Areas: South Africa, New Zealand.


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 8, Room 802
New Zealand

Web links