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University of Otago

Department of Anthropology & Archaeology

Anthropology 1593 The science of mankind in the widest sense, coined from Greek: anthropos “human being” + –logos “study of.”

Associate Professor Ruth Fitzgerald

Social Anthropology
Room 2N4
Tel 64 3 479 8169

Research Interests

Theoretical and applied medical anthropology; contemporary ideologies of health care; innovative medical technology and embodiment in New Zealand society.
Dr Fitzgerald


ANTH210 Translating Culture: Reading Ethnographic Texts
ANTH211 Comtemporary Ethnographic Research
ANTH322 Conceiving Reproduction
ANTH323 Anthropology of Health (Offered in 2015)
ANTH423 Bodies, Technologies and Medicine


  • 2012, Investigating oral self-care by low-income adults
  • 2010, Marsden, Troubling Choice. Exploring and explaining techniques of moral reasoning for people living at the intersection of reproductive technologies, genetics, and disability, Feb 2011 – Feb 2014. (PI along with CoPIs Assoc. Prof. Julie Park, University of Auckland, and Assoc. Prof. Mike Legge, University of Otago).
  • 2010, ORG, Exercising the Right to Choose? Southern Men, Moral Reasoning, Abortions and Care, Jan 2011- Jan 2012. (PI)
  • 2009, ORG, Exercising the Right to Choose? Moral decision making by South Island women over pregnancy terminations, Jan 2010 – Jan 2011. (PI)
  • 2009, Royal Society of New Zealand, Funding for face to face meeting for international collaborators on the research project, Filial Duty and the Virtuous Saint, July 2009- July 2010. (PI with Co PI Prof. Charles Nuckolls, BYU, Utah and Assoc. Prof. Mike Legge, University of Otago).
  • 2005, ORG, Conceiving Reproductive Scientists, Jan 2005 – Jan 2007. (PI with Co PI Assoc. Prof. Mike Legge, University of Otago).
  • 2004, Quality Improvement Initiatives Fund, Tutorial Group Improvement Initiative, (Co principle researchers Dr Carol Bond HEDC, Ms Martin and Mr van der Meer OUSA)
  • 2003, ORG, The Political Economy of Occupational Overuse Syndrome (Co-Principal Researcher Dr Chrystal Jaye, Dept of General Practice)
  • 2001, Divisional Research Grant, Nurse Prescribing in Southern Rural New Zealand, October 2001 – December, 2002. (PI).

Recent Conference Papers and Technical Reports

Bathard H., Broad R., Fitzgerald R.P., Legge M. (2013) Conversations with 3 South Island families about the lived experience of heritable deafness, the meanings of disability and reproductive decision-making. Published by RP Fitzgerald, Dept. Anthropology & Archaeology, University of Otago, 40 pages ISBN 978-0-9922626-0-0 (digital)

Fitzgerald R P, Legge M and N Frank (2012) Custodians of Eggs and Embryos: A Technical Report on the social and ethical meanings of the work of biological scientists working in HART, Published by RP Fitzgerald, University of Otago,16 pages ISBN 978-0-473-21859-1 (print) ISBN 978-0-473-21860-7 (web)

Fitzgerald RP (2009) PGD, The Right to Choose, Disability and the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders (NZORD). Conference Paper Presented at the Society for Medical Anthropology Annual Meeting, Yale University, New Haven, CT. September 24-27, 2009.

Selected Publications

Books and Book Chapters

Fitzgerald R. P. (forthcoming) “Occupational Therapists, Care and Managerialism” in (ed) L. Robertson Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy: Controversies in Practice, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, (8297 words)

Fitzgerald R. P. (in press) “Biological Citizenship in New Zealand” in (eds) Janice McLaughlin, Peter Phillimore and Diane Richardson Boundaries of Recognition and Belonging, Palgrave (8000 words)

Park J and Fitzgerald R. P. (in press) “Biotechnologies of Care” in M. Singer and P. Erickson (eds) Blackwell’s Companion to Medical Anthropology, Oxford:Wiley Blackwell, (8002 words)

Dew, K. and R Fitzgerald (eds) (2004) Challenging Science: Science and Society Issues in New Zealand, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press.

Journal Articles

Jaye C, & Fitzgerald R. (2011) Embodying occupational overuse syndrome. Health: An interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine X (X):1-16.

Crump R.J., Fitzgerald R.P. and M. Legge (2010) “Going-to-have-cancerness”. A study of living with increased family risk of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations for six South Island women”, Journal Primary Health Care, 2 (4) 311-317.

Jaye C, & Fitzgerald R. (2010) The lived political economy of occupational overuse syndrome among New Zealand workers. Sociology of Health and Illness 3 (7):1-16.

Robinson L. & Fitzgerald R.P. (2010) The conceptualisation of residential home environments: implications for occupational therapy, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73 (4) 170-177.

Sussex P. Thomson W.M. & R.P. Fitzgerald (2010) Understanding the ‘Epidemic’ of Tooth Loss in Older New Zealanders Gerodontology 27(2) 85-95.

Fitzgerald R. P. (2008) Biological Citizenship at the Periphery: parenting children with genetic disorders, New Genetics and Society 27 (3) 251-266.

Fitzgerald, R. P. (2008) New Zealand Rural Nurse Specialists and the politics of Care Medical Anthropology 27 (3) 257-282.

Legge, M, Fitzgerald, R & Jones L (2008) An alternative consideration in drug testing in elite athletes. New Zealand Medical Journal. 121;

Frank, N. Fitzgerald R.P. and Legge M. (2007) Phenylketonuria: the lived experience New Zealand Medical Journal 120

Legge, M. Fitzgerald R.P. (2007) Risky Knowledges: the sociocultural impacts of personal genetics in a knowledge-driven economy New Zealand Medical Journal 120

Frank, N. Fitzgerald R.P. and Legge M. (2007) Negotiating PKU. Insights from New Zealand Sites 4 (1):161-189.

Legge, M. R. Fitzgerald, and N. Frank (2007) A retrospective study of New Zealand case law involving assisted reproduction technology and the social recognition of ‘new’ family Human Reproduction 22: 17-25.

Fitzgerald R. & Robertson L. (2006) Inhabiting the places and non-places of a residential home: a case study from New Zealand.
Sites New Series Vol 3(1):48-71.

Fitzgerald, R.P., Thomson.W. M., Schafer, C.T., and M.A.T.H. Loose (2004) An exploratory, qualitative study of Otago Adolescents’ views of oral health and oral health care, in New Zealand Dental Journal 100 No 3:62-71.

Finlay S, Fitzgerald R. and Legge M (2004) Cytogeneticists’ Stories around the Ethics and Social Consequences of their Work: A New Zealand Case Study’ in New Zealand Bioethics Journal 5 (2): 13-24.

Fitzgerald, R. P. (2004) The New Zealand Health Reforms: dividing the labour of care, Social Science and Medicine 58:331-341.

Fitzgerald R. and J. Park (2003) Introduction: Issues in the practice of medical anthropology in the Antipodes Sites (New Series) 1 (1):1-29.

Fitzgerald, R. Campbell, H. and Sivak, S. (2002) Content Analysis of Bias in International Print Media Coverage of GM Food, Rural Society, 11(3):181–196.

Campbell, H. and R. Fitzgerald (2002) Follow the Fear: A multisited approach to GM, Rural Society, 11(3): 211 – 224.


2nd Floor, Richardson Building
Castle St., University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand.
Tel  64 3 479 8751
Fax  64 3 479 9095