Assunta Hunter
Assunta Hunter

Assunta Hunter is a long-time herbal medicine practitioner and teacher of herbal medicine who has recently completed a PhD in medical anthropology at the University of Melbourne on the modernisation and professionalization of Thai traditional medicine. Her doctoral research articulates a focus on globalization and knowledge creation in traditional medicine systems in particular the processes of hybridity at play in traditional medicine, which have been accelerated by state intervention and medical tourism.

She is currently working at the University of Melbourne on a large project exploring disability and employment. She has a long-term interest in the direction of the herbal medicine profession and the education of herbal medicine practitioners in Australia.

In this episode of AnthroTalking, we speak to Assunta Hunter about her ethnographic fieldwork in Thailand, her doctoral research, and the struggles anthropologists might experience while conducting fieldwork in Thailand. Hunter tells us about how the community of Thai traditional medicine practitioners have adapted to the changes associated with the modernisation and professionalization of Thai traditional medicine (see references, Hunter 2013). She describes a new breed of practitioners in Thailand, as well as in Australia, who move freely between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ knowledge. As you will hear in the episode, the so-called ‘post-modern practitioners’ are at the forefront of novel patterns of knowledge creation – in which the state, the institutions of the profession and practitioners contest and cooperate in the creation of authoritative knowledge.

Published on:

February 5, 2016

Created by:

Fredrik Nyman

Key words:

Thailand, Chiang Mai Province, Southeast Asia, traditional medicine, herbal medicine, traditional medicine practitioners, medical anthropology, naturopathy, governmentality, social hierarchies, formality, informality, gender roles, University of Melbourne

Further information:


Cite as:

Nyman, Fredrik. “Assunta Hunter on her fieldwork in Thailand, and working as a practitioner of herbal medicine” AnthroTalking: Podcasts at Stockholm University’s Department of Social Anthropology, online February 5, 2016,


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