I’m a Cambridge-, SOAS London- and Cornell-trained anthropologist specializing as an academic in Southeast Asia & particularly in Thailand. My thesis was about the range of social and economic exchanges which bind Thai Buddhist monks & their lay parishioners to each other, contrary to conventional beliefs about the individualizing effects of Buddhism.
This topic may seem a long way from my current interests but it is actually not so far. A connecting thread is an interest in how individuals move in and out of the roles society offers and how they modify, or are changed by those roles. Also having worked in Thai society where celibacy is the ideal state, puts into perspective Western societies’ concern with sexuality and sexual attractiveness. Not that all monks are necessarily immune to those concerns but that’s another story.
Most of my career after leaving academia has been with the United Nations in a variety of exotic locations, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, India, Kosovo, South Korea, Bangladesh, the English-speaking Caribbean, West & Central Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya. To name some of the main milestones. Since 1998 I’ve worked as an independent consultant with the UN, the EU and other development donors, as well as keeping one or two toes in academic life. As an anthropologist in the UN system I have found myself often cast as broker between the ‘beneficiaries’ and the development planners in the UN and in government. This is a role which offers a lot of scope for being active in audience research, and two-way development communication, as well as in sharing ‘anthropological’ skills with colleagues.
Progressively I began working on human rights issues; first of all children’s rights with UNICEF in the Caribbean, and then women’s rights everywhere which has led me naturally to an interest in gender issues. I’ve been involved in a wide range of projects in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East.
Gendercentric.org is the virtual arm of my consulting company but really began as a resource for an online course I developed in Media & Gender as part of an MA in Media Studies at the New School of Social Research, NYU, New York and I continue to be fascinated by the impact of media of all kinds on gender stereotype formation & change, as well as the ways in which perceived gender differences affect communication patterns. The articles and newsflashes on the home page address the latest gender news and issues from around the world and I hope you’ll all jump right in with your own thoughts. Some of the articles are based on book reviews I’ve done for the New York Journal of Books and are so referenced.
Later this year I’ll be opening an interactive forum on this site – imaginatively titled, Gendercentric Forum – which will open a space for more extended participation and debate.
Gendercentric.org runs the gamut of gender issues from chromosomes to conflict prevention and back with many interesting detours on the way. I hope also that the site will attract visitors, gender expert or non-expert, from a variety of different spheres, public and private sector, media, academia, international development, business, IT, and from different continents and cultures, for the maximum amount of cross-fertilization and exchange on this fascinating topic!