BA (Asian Studies) (Hons), PhD, FASSA, FWAAS, MASSAf


Lenore Manderson AM is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology in the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She joined Wits as a member of faculty in 2014; previously, from 2004-2013, she was an honorary professor and, in 2008, Hillel Friedland Senior Fellow at the university. She is an adjunct professor at Monash University. She lives between Prahran (Naarm/Melbourne, Australia), and Rosebank (Johannesburg, South Africa).

1988 – 2019


From 2014-2019 Lenore was Visiting Distinguished Professor, Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, and Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence, RI. From 2006-2013, she was Professor of Medical Anthropology in the School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts, at Monash University, Australia. Prior to joining Monash, she was Professor of Tropical Health (University of Queensland, 1988-1998), then Professor of Women’s Health (University of Melbourne, 1999-2005). She was awarded an inaugural Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2001, and took this up at Melbourne and Monash Universities from 2002-2007.

Awards &

She has trained to graduation over 150 higher degree students and mentored dozens of other trainees, research interns and colleagues in Australia and overseas. In recognition of this she was awarded the American Anthropological Association, Medical Anthropology Students’ Association Mentor Award in 2007, and the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision at Monash University in 2013.  She was President of the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS 2001-2003), chairperson of the Program Committee and a member of the Board of Trustees of the World Academy of Art and Science 2010-2011, and a member of the steering committee for a project of the Academy of Science of Australia on population, equity, climate change and sustainability. She was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stewardship on Research on Infectious Disease of Poverty (SAC-STE), WHO/TDR (Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) (2008-2011) and the TDR Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) (2012-2016). From 2015-2017, she was a member of the TDR Scientific Working Group on Vectors, Environment and Society. She was also Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Group of SEACO (Southeast Asia Community Observatory), Monash University Malaysia, 2014-2017. She chaired the research program committee of the Social Innovations in Health Initiative (2015-2023) of TDR; was a member of Scientific Working Group (SWG) for Research for Implementation, 2018-2020, and member of the SWG of the WHO Kobe Centre, 2017-2021. She was a member of the board of the Society for Applied Anthropology 2019-2022, and is currently a member of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative’s Access Committee.

In recognition of her contributions to research, she was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia in 1995 and Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science, in 2004. In 2016 she was elected to the Academy of Science of South Africa. Also in 2016 she was awarded an A Rating by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, acknowledging her status as a leading international researcher, and received the AAA Society of Medical Anthropology Career Achievement Award honouring her role in advancing the field of Medical Anthropology. In 2020 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to education, particularly medical anthropology, and to public health.

She received the 2023 Bronislaw Malinowski Award from the Society for Applied Anthropology, and an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University.

1973 – present

& Editor

She is the author, editor or co-author of 30 books, and over 700 articles, book chapters and reports, including Sickness and the State (1996), Surface Tensions: Surgery, Bodily Boundaries and the Social Self (2011), Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology (2016, ed. with E.Cartwright and A.Hardon), Viral Loads: Anthropologies of Urgency in the time of Covid-19 (2021, ed. with N.J.Burke and A.Wahlberg), and Cancer and the Politics of Care (2023, ed. with L.Bennett). She edited the journal Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness from 2010 – 2020, and from 2023, has edited Human Organization. She established the series Medical Anthropology: Health, Inequality, and Social Justice for Rutgers University Press; the series has published 24 books to date.


Lenore Manderson is internationally known for her work in anthropology, social history and public health. She has played a lead role in training and research in inequality, social exclusion and marginality, the social determinants of infectious and chronic disease, gender and sexuality, immigration, ethnicity and inequality, in Australia, Southeast and East Asia (including Malaysia, China, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan), South Africa and Ghana, and in the Solomon Islands. Much of her work with Indigenous and immigrants Australians, and in infectious disease, is applied; this includes the development of guidelines for practice to enhance access to services and to provide cultural appropriate services.

For Brown University, her work included a five-year program bringing together the natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts in conversations on environmental change and sustainability; as well as teaching in the IE Brown Executive MBA.

Throughout my career, I have focused on novel interdisciplinary approaches to study health, illness and wellbeing, and to developing research capacity in these areas – working with people from diverse low and middle-income countries in Asia, Pacific, and Africa, and with resource poor communities in Australia.

I am dedicated to supporting, supervising and mentoring young researchers as higher degree students and through my roles in book and journal editing, in ensuring the dissemination of their work. My current work builds on this: at the University of the Witwatersrand in exploring questions around medical interventions, technology, access and equity; and recently at Brown University, in bringing together the natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts in conversations on environmental change and sustainability.