Ms Pauline Herbst

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

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Pauline has been engaged in anthropological fieldwork in South Africa as part of her MA, which explored how the body of the South-African Rasta child was contested post-apartheid. She also tutored undergraduates at Rhodes University and worked as a researcher for the Institute of Social and Economic Research in Grahamstown. In addition Pauline has worked in the New Zealand media industry as a magazine editor and journalist since 2006. In 2013 she worked as a research assistant for Julie Park on Transnational Pacific Health through the Lens of Tuberculosis, and for Susanna Trnka on Breathing Politics: Accountability and Responsibility for Children’s Asthma.

Research | Current

Thesis title: Genetic Imperfection in an Age of 'Designer' Babies. An ethnography of children diagnosed with medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCAD).

This study aims to examine the developing personhood of children diagnosed with inborn genetic metabolic errors and how the narratives about their illness are constructed and change depending on the audience. It will include children in different age groups, to see how the child's identity is constructed both by the self and others over time. This aim will be achieved through a child-focused ethnography of those diagnosed with medium-chain acyl-coA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCAD/MCADD), focusing on the agency of the child as a fully participating social actor. This research is affiliated to the Marsden “Troubling Choice” project led by Julie Park, Ruth Fitzgerald and Michael Legge.

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

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.