University of Sydney
Dr Gaynor Macdonald is a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Her post-graduate supervision has included critical medical anthropology, domestic violence, cultural constructions of identity in native title, race relations in rural Australia, experiences of Aboriginal youth, and Indigenous health communication. In addition to publishing in Indigenous anthropology, she has a major research interest in dementia, co-editing Dementia as Social Experience, Valuing Life and Care (2019), to which she contributed, Why ‘person-centred’ care is not enough: A relational approach to dementia. Her article, Death in life or life in death? Dementia's ontological challenge (2018) has been much cited. It was her long-standing work on personhood and change among Wiradjuri Aboriginal people of central NSW that brought her critical lens to the representations of ‘personhood’ in people experiencing neurodegeneration. She argues that anthropology, through its understanding of ‘difference’ and its insights into diverse understandings of personhood, value, change and morality, has an important contribution to make to understanding 'living with dementia' as a social not medical experience. Her insights were prompted by the ‘doom and gloom’ she and her husband were thrust into when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She found conventional notions of ‘person-centred’ care were inadequate in understanding the relationships required of good dementia care, and is critical of the inadequacy of approaches to care and carer support. She has co-authored two submissions to RCACQS, and is committed to research, critique and advocacy on behalf of familial and professional carers, including ensuring those with lived experience drive research and training agendas. She is completing analysis of ways in which biomedical paradigms fuel fear and stigma, and on the structural abuse of familial carers. She co-founded, with Assoc Prof Jane Mears, the Dementia Reframed project, to help combat negativity, and provide support for carers.