Most of my research is dedicated to an ethnographic experiment of mapping differences and similarities on the move. This starts from the simple (but mostly overlooked) fact, that distinguishing between different things, bodies, cultures, persons or values is an ever changing engagement with those very elements. It is this fluid and partial mode of knowing which I mean to highlight by the notion of ‘metabologies,’ a concept that tries to establish permeability between embodied experience and technoscientific practices. Mind that the way I use it here, “metabologies” is a biological concept only as far as its place of origin is concerned. The consequences go far beyond biology and medicine.



Fields of Interest

  • ethnographic theory
  • medical anthropology
  • science and technology studies (sts)
  • anthropology of pharmaceuticals
  • planetary health
  • comparative methodology


Areas of Interest

Medicinal herbs. Currently, I am developing a project to investigate the co-constitution of things and values in the development and use of herbal medications in Japan and Southeast Asia. The alterity of Vietnamese, Japanese and/or Chinese medical traditions, and scientific explanations depends on the scale—global, local, regional, biological etc.—in which they deploy themselves: the industrial production of extracts that target global health problems; the micropropagation of engendered species in a laboratory; or the cultivation and naming of plants in a garden. By highlighting the entanglement of different medical traditions in the process of producing and metabolising new medications, my aim is to explore the possibilities and challenges of “ethnographic comparisons.”

Diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which different realities are linked together in the daily quest of understanding them. Patients, their doctors and the many researchers I worked with in different parts of Japan during the past decade see and live their bodies as a metabolic system (taisha) that keeps transforming disparate properties into each other: food and disease, sugar and life, outside and inside, Japanese and Caucasian. The point here is to show that it is through various acts of eating, calculating glucose  levels, or studying the genetic basis of diabetes that such heterogenous qualities come to be appreciated and embodied in their intensive relations.

Japonisme. In the past half century, diabetes has transformed from an obscure and acute condition to one of the paradigmatic issues of biomedicine in Japan, involving the interaction between state-of-the-art science and public health intervention on a massive scale. Different facts and experiences that structure the knowledge about this chronic condition emerge within particular interferences between scientific and cultural attributions. Some repertoires invoke “Japanese genes,” while others inscribe a stereotypical male diabetes patient, the sarariman, or company employee. The puzzle is this: how do these different subjects of molecular biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, etc. come to stand for the same disease, if they do at all?

Method. The anthropological challenge then is how to reinvent the conceptual tool of difference; how to move from static notions of identity and distinction to the recognition of transformation and connection. What is emerging from this ‘metabolizing of anthropology’  is a method of following the movement of difference through existential and disciplinary boundaries.


Recent (and selected) publications

for a more complete list click here

2021 Toxic Remedies: On the cultivation of medicinal plants and urban ecologies. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 15(2): 192-210, 2021. doi: 10.1080/18752160.2021.1897738

2021 (小笠原理恵と共著)「医療とレジリエンス——新興感染症からの試論」『未来共創』第8号:123–143頁。 (Healthcare and Resilience in Pandemic Times, Mirai Kyoso:Journal of Collaborative Future Creation) doi: 10.50829/miraikyoso.8.0_123

2020 “Viral Scaling.” Hot Spots, Fieldsights, June 23.  

2020「共に治す——人新世における人間と植物の共生をめぐって」『共生学宣言』栗本英世・河森正人・志水宏吉・檜垣立哉・モハーチ ゲルゲイ(編)、275–294頁、大阪大学出版会、2020(“Healing Together: Plant-human relations in the Anthropocene.” In Kyosei Studies Manifesto, Kokichi Shimizu, Masato Kawamori, Eisei Kurimoto, Tatsuya Higaki, Gergely Mohacsi, eds. pp. 275–294. Osaka: Osaka University Press, 2020)ISBN: 9978-4-87259-708-0

2020「薬と共に生きる——一錠に詰め込まれた世界」『病む(人間学シリーズ5)』山中浩司・石倉文信(編)、109–129頁、大阪大学出版会、2020(“Living with Drugs: The world in a pill.” In Disease. Hiroshi Yamanaka and Fuminobu Ishikura, eds. pp. 109–129. Human Sciences Series 5. Osaka: Osaka University Press, 2020)ISBN: 978-4-87259-622-9

2020 (with Beverley Yamamoto, Hiroshi Yamanaka, Yumi Kimura and Rie Ogasawara) “Social Design for Health: Ontological vulnerability, life course and planetary health,” In Humanistic futures of learning Perspectives from UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks. pp. 91–94. Genève: UNESCO. ISBN 978-92-3-100369-1

2019 「病気と付き合う——慢性病の食事療法をめぐる民族誌的試論」『ケアが生まれる場——他者とともに生きる社会のために』森明子編、296–312頁、ナカニシヤ出版、2019 (“Cohabiting Disease: An ethnographic interpretation of nutrition therapy in chronic illness.” In The Emergence of Care: Living together with the Other. Akiko Mori ed. Kyoto: Nakanishiya Publisher) ISBN: 978-47-79513-96-1

2018 “The Pharmaceutical Garden: Experimenting with medicinal plants in Vietnam and Japan.” Conference Proceedings of the 18th IUAES World Congress (Vol.2). Miriam Pillar Grossi, Simone Lira da Silva, Ivi Porfirio, Caroline Amábile Vale dos Santos, Gabriel Darío López Zamora, Gabriela Alano Tertuliano, Maria Luiza Scheren, Filipe Tchinene Calueio eds., pp.2083–2111. Florianópolis: IUAES/ABA, 2018. ISBN: 978-85-62946-96-7

2017「代謝の視点から——共に食べることをめぐる六つの覚書」『思想』2017年12号(1124):77–92頁, 2017 (From a Metabolic Point of View: Six Notes on Eating Together, Shisō)

2017薬物効果のループ—西ハンガリーにおける臨床試験の現場から」『文化人類学』81(4):614–631頁, 2017 (Pharmaceutical Loops: The Entanglement of Care and Experiment in Clinical Trials in Western Hungary, Japanese Journal of Cultural Anthropology)


Recent (and selected) academic papers

for a more complete list click here

2021 March 5, “Fitter, Happier, More Polluted: Chronic disease and environmental drugging in Japan”—Paper presented at the Conference-Workshop Chronic Living: Quality, Vitality and Health in the 21st Century held in Copenhagen (remote).

2020 Aug 21, “Locating Matters”—Invited talk in the Subplenary at the International Conference of 4S Annual Meeting, Virtual Prague.

2019 Dec 11, “Planting the Seeds of Resilience: Medicinal plants and posthuman experiments in Japan”―Paper presented at the Conference-Workshop Republic of Plants, Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India.

2019 Sep 5, “Experimenting with NatureCultures.” In NatureCulture, created by Grant Jun Otsuki, Gergely Mohacsi, Miki Namba, Liv Krause, Asli Kemiksiz and Émile St-Pierre. Innovating STS Gallery Exhibit, curated by Aalok Khandekar and Kim Fortun. Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. New Orleans, USA.

2019 Aug 30, Toxic Remedies: On the cultivation of medicinal plants and urban ecologies”―Paper to be presented at the International Conference of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland.

2019 May 30, 薬草園における地球と身体のループ——Planetary healthという共生の方へ」『第32回人間科学セミナー』大阪大学。

2018 Aug 29/Sep 1Anthropologies of science and technology in Japan” (with Ishii Miho, Shuhei Kimura, Moe Nakazora, Miki Namba, Grant Otsuki, Yoko Taguchi) ―Poster exhibited as part of the STS Across Borders exhibition at the International Conference of 4S Annual Meeting, International Convention Centre, Sydney.

2018 July 17, The Pharmaceutical Garden: Experimenting with medicinal plants in Vietnam and Japan”―Paper to be presented at the International Conference of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Florianópolis, Brazil.

2018 February 24, Mohacsi Gergely, “Vital Experiments”―Introductory remarks presented at the International Symposium Vital Experiments: Living (and Dying) with Pharmaceuticals after the Human, Kyoto University, Kyoto.

2017 December 10, “Experiments with Care: Between bench and bedside”—Paper at the international workshop “Thinking about an Anthropology of Care,” National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka,

2017 May 27, 「廃墟を耕す:生薬栽培における人間と植物の共生をめぐって」『第51回日本文化人類学会研究大会』神戸大学。

2017 May 8, “Gardening the Future: On the cultivation of herbal medicines and planetary health”—Paper at the international symposium Visible and Invisible: Infrastructures and Politics of Cohabitation, University of Toronto.

2017 May 5, “Living together with plants (technologies)”—Roundtable talk presented at the International Conference of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Ottawa.


More links to my research