Channel “Idioms of Normality”

Idioms of Normality
A channel hosted by Dr. Paul Mason
Dr. Paul Mason is an Australian anthropologist who works on human and planetary health. In this space, we share the conversations Paul has about normality with people from all walks of life from Australia and around the world.

What is normal? How does normality impact our lives? What would the world look like if we took seriously the idea that normality is not real? Accompany Paul on his exploratory tour to better understand the way in which people think about normality and the way it shapes our lives and impacts upon the planet.

Want to know more? We invite you to join the conversation! Write to us with questions about normality, or if you would like Paul to further explore some aspects you are particularly interested in.

Coming on September 1st. Stay tuned.

Professor James Trauer is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist who works at Monash University. His work in disease modeling has kept him extremely busy these past couple of years so we are fortunate to steal a little bit of his time. Little has been “business as usual” for medical doctors these past couple of years and Professor Trauer shares his insights into how healthcare delivery has adapted and changed as the “normal” has been irrevocably called into question.

Today’s guest is Emma Jane, author of “Diagnosis Normal: Living with abuse, undiagnosed autism, and COVID-grade crazy”.

Emma and Paul explore the exactness and limitations of the simile that normality is like fire. The concept of normality has a power like fire and can have very real and tangible effects on people’s lives. For Emma, her interest in normality is both personal and academic. Her subjective experiences have helped her to develop a critical distance from the concept of normality and allow her to question the moments where it is useful and the moments where it is not. Emma offers perspectives that are witty, challenging, and insightful.

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul interviews dancer and performing artist Josh Horner whose career spans ballet, musical theatre, and TV. Josh challenges the question “what is normal?” and discusses the importance of play, discipline, goal-setting, confidence, engagement, relationships and living life large and out of the box. With infectious energy, Josh shares insightful self-reflections about how to challenge the notion of a ‘normal’ career.

What does normality look like from the position of someone living with chronic illness? In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Kimberly McReynolds a herpetologist who worked as a nurse in a previous career. Kimberly reflects upon normality in academia, our perspectives on normality in the animal kingdom, and the experience of normality from someone whose embodied experiences lie outside the range typically considered normal.

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Dr. John Richters humbly reflects on his career and his personal life to distill some hard-won wisdom about the application and limits of the concept of normality. The centrality of normality in much psychological research compromises the veracity of the research findings. So what alternatives does Dr Richters suggest? When the research paradigm shifts, the questions we ask change. To find out more, listen to this episode about the assumptions of normality.

What if we stop trying to fix people and start empowering them for who and what they are?
How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Line

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul interviews Jonathan Mooney, author of Normal Sucks. Jonathan shares his personal experiences of growing up on “the wrong side of normal” and the hardwon insights he has learnt from finding value in his difference. He pays his insights forward and teaches others how to recognise, resist and reframe normality in their own lives. Normal can be written into the fabric of the systems we work within as students, citizens and employees. Recognizing and reframing normality, wherever it rears its ugly head, is important if we wish to achieve social and environmental justice.

Does the “normal” body exist?

Challenging images of normality.

This is podcast episode 38 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV, the collective podcast of Traces&Dreams.

Is there a normal? Amanda Thorson reflects upon her own professional experiences as a photographer and her personal experiences of becoming a mother in this episode of Idioms of Normality hosted by Dr Paul Mason. Amanda discusses the cultural imperatives that burden the female body. In her photographic work, she strives to embrace the diversity of the human form. Her latest work is a book called, “There is no normal”, which attempts to popularise experiences of womanhood that are often excluded from mainstream media. Challenging images of normality in this way isn’t simply visual pursuit, but rather an endeavour to reframe how women experience, understand, and enjoy their bodies.

Indigenous know better

Will indigenous wisdom revolutionise our understanding? This is podcast episode 37 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV, the collective podcast of Traces&Dreams.

Is it normal to talk to plants? In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul talks with Dr Sophie Chao whose fieldwork experiences among the Marind of West Papua prompted deep reflection on who and what is normal.

The Marind people are being displaced by deforestation and the spread of palm oil plantations, which highlights the urgency of understanding their lifeworlds. A pivotal moment during Sohpie’s time conducting fieldwork with the Marind came when she realised that people were not always gossiping about people but were casually discussing the actions and attributes of nonhumans including plants and animals.

Sophie discovered that the Marind discuss other organisms in the forest the same way that we might talk about siblings, friends and acquaintances. In true ethnographic style, Sophie’s fieldwork prompts us to reflect if we in the West are the abnormal ones looking to destroy forests and replace them with monocrops and if perhaps if the world would be a better place if ways of being in the world such as those of the Marind were, in fact, the normal.

WHAT IS POST-NORMAL SCIENCE | Does science need to slow and how much philosophy does science need?

Does science need to slow down? How much philosophy does science need? What is knowledge and what are the relevant questions to be asked about it?

This is podcast episode 36 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV, the collective podcast of Traces&Dreams.

In this episode, Paul talks with Dr Fanny Verrax a French philosopher who has worked on a variety of environmental issues and has contributed to the field of postnormal science. She describes the basic tenets of postnormal science and shares her story about why it might be important to keep normal as a statistical object but to excise it from being a cultural imperative.

Traces.Dreams is a place on the web for people interested in the past, passionate about the present and curious about the future. Traces.Dreams is where you can find inspiration through a multidisciplinary and multi-regional perspective. Our vision is to make the big questions and dreams of today’s researchers visible. We interview researchers from different disciplines and countries to get their perspective on their work, their views on life, their “whys”, their motivation and their wishes.

WE ARE DEALING WITH AN INVISIBLE ENEMY | Is normality a good way to think about evolutionary biology
Is normality a good way to think about evolutionary biology? This is podcast episode 35 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV.

In this episode, Paul speaks with Professor Ryszard Maleszka from the Australian National University.

Ryszard Maleszka received his MSc and a PhD from the Department of Genetics, University of Warsaw and has done postdoctoral work at the National Research Council of Canada before moving to Australia in 1987. Since 1998 he has been spearheading a research theme called ‘From Molecules to Memory’ that uses invertebrate model systems to study the genotype to phenotype link, and to understand how epigenetic modifications contribute to environmentally-driven phenotypic plasticity and the maintenance of memory. He is a member of several genomic consortia and advisor to genomic databases. He has published over 100 papers including research and popular articles, reviews and book chapters.

A MASSIVE GLOBAL PROBLEM | Who does have the luxury to challenge normality? Dr. Almas Taj Awan
Who is allowed to challenge normality? In this podcast episode, Paul speaks with Dr. Almas Taj Awan. She is a Scientist and Entrepreneur born in Pakistan and based in Brazil. She is the host of the series #innovationfromtheglobalsouth.

Enjoy the episode!

Decoupling Normality
In this episode, Paul speaks with Dr Humberto Bettini who teaches economics in the Department of Engineering and Production at the University of São Paulo. Humberto lucidly describes how the concept of normal has become confused and unhelpful. Bringing his personal and professional experiences to bear upon the question, Humberto advocates for the concept of normality to be decoupled from sibling concepts such as normativity, conformity, and superiority.

The range of normality.
In this podcast episode, Paul speaks with the medical doctor and martial artist Dr. Chris Lemoh, a physician with mixed cultural heritage currently working at Medicine Monash Health in Australia. Early in his career, a friend’s father who was a psychiatrist told him, “Don’t ever accept the statistical definition of normal.

Try to escape the tyranny of the bell curve.” Chris reflects thoughtfully upon his work with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds including refugee patients. Medical definitions of the normal, he finds, can be both helpful and a hindrance.

Author of “The Perfect Vagina: Cosmetic Surgery in the Twenty-First Century”, Dr. Lindy MacDougall joins Paul in this podcast episode of Idioms of Normality. Why do we tell people what to do with their bodies? What is it that makes our bodies so susceptible to social influence? How does the experience and presentation of the body define patterns of social inclusion?

Lindy and Paul discuss how personal insecurities, the desire to be normal or perfect, and consumerism work together to drive an industry that tells women what their bodies should look like. The pursuit of beauty can sometimes work to the detriment of our health and Lindy’s research offers some provocative case examples to think about.

Breaking Normal with Dr. Lucas Marie. Not many academics break free of the ivory tower to dance hip hop. This week’s guest on Idioms of Normality is Dr. Lucas Marie who not only loves to windmill, headspin, and six-step, he gets to call it research when he does.

His love of anthropology and performance led him to a study of breaking in Western Australia. He studies globalisation and localisation and brings his hardwon insights to the question, “What is normal?”

Lucas and Paul grapple with whether or not normality is a useful concept and discuss the usefulness of an anthropologist’s own sense of abnormality as a fruitful tool of social inquiry.

Does normality breed indifference for lives different than our own? Today we talk about Refugees in Australia.

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Marjorie Tenchavez, founder of Welcome Merchant, a social enterprise that elevates refugee-powered businesses in Australia. Beneath a beautiful veneer of beaches and biodiversity hides an ugly underbelly of bureaucratically protected borders that can make the refugee experience in coming to Australia horribly difficult. Does normality breed indifference for lives different than our own? Marjorie discusses her personal journey into this work as well as the stories and fulfillment she has felt along the way.

What does feminism teach us about life? Who decides what is normal for a boy and what is normal for a girl? Notions of normality podcast.

In this podcast episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Dr Adele Pavlidis from Griffith University in Australia. Her work has a central focus on women in sport but spans many different areas of sociology and feminism. Paul and Adele talk about the gender, politics, and economics of care among other topics and discuss the importance of questioning values that we naturalise in popular society.

Challenging Normality with Yensi Alejandra Flores Bueso.
In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Yensi Flores Bueso, a synthetic biologist studying cancer at the University College Cork, Ireland.

Yensi discusses normality in the laboratory and its cultural life outside the laboratory. Normal is a term used often in experimental science but has several shortcomings. In wider society, these shortcomings have become amplified and normality is a concept that deserves to be challenged in order to lead an authentic life.

Can we go back to everyday normality, and what is normal nowadays? This is episode 26 of Idioms of Normality. A series hosted by Dr. Paul Mason for #futureframedTV

In this episode, Paul Mason interviews Robert Lepenies from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. Is he a philosopher? Is he an economist? Is he a political scientist? Robert describes himself as an undisciplined academic. His answer to the question “what is normal?” is unique and insightful! He says we need to think about three things to answer this question: (1) luxury, (2) hope, and (3) power. The reasons behind this answer could very well help you to question normality and disrupt social and environmental imbalances. Tune in!

Can you feel the massive disruption of normality? What is normal nowadays? Learn more about a major cultural shift of norms with Associate Professor Lisa Wynn.

In this podcast episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Associate Professor Lisa Wynn, an anthropologist at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. They discuss Lisa’s work on sexuality in the middle east and the conflation of norms and ideals in popular culture. They also discuss the establishment of new social norms in the context of COVID19 and how we collectively rally behind new norms that are ostensibly scientific, objective, and factual, but nonetheless cultural and symbolic.

Mental health, psychiatry and the history of normality

In this episode, Dr. Paul Mason speaks with Professor Roy Richard Grinker, author of Nobody’s Normal. They discuss mental health, psychiatry and the history of normality. Is normality something real and natural or is it something humans made up? And, if it is made up, how did we construct this concept and what are the consequences of deploying it? In this compelling episode, Professor Grinker discusses his study of autism, the mental health industry, and the social consequences of our classificatory labels.

The Illusion of Normality

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul interviews stage magician and environmental scientist Pierre-Ulric Achour. In this wide-reaching conversation, they explore normality’s domain. Normality has applicability when examining inanimate objects using scientific methods. But, does normality have application when considering biological organisms such as humans in all their messy complexity? And, has the stability of the Holocene tricked humans into an illusory understanding of normality?

The Hegemony of normalcy

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Professor Lennard Davis, author of Enforcing Normalcy and The End of Normal, joins Paul in a discussion about the history, cultural dynamics, and hegemony of normalcy. This must-watch episode unpacks the widespread influence normalcy has had on the contemporary world. With a view towards social justice, Lennard leads us to ask if there is a utopia where we are not under the sway of the normal and, if so, what does that look like?

Normality and Education

In this episode, Paul interviews Drs Joanna and Kate Winchester, sisters who both conduct research into education in Australia. Challenging established doctrine and traditional educational practice, their research looks at new ways of cultivating pedagogical experiences.

The Pursuit of Normality

In this episode, Paul interviews Professor Elizabeth Shove, a sociologist at Lancaster University who co-directs the Centre on Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand. Enormous resources are consumed in the pursuit of normality and Elizabeth shares her insights into challenging the everyday practices that we have come to take for granted.
The Demand Dictionary of Phrase and Fable that she mentions in the interview is available online: http://www.demand.ac.uk/demand-dictionary/

The Speed of Normality

In this episode, Paul speaks with Ashwin Segkar. Ashwin describes normality as a dull, grey field with red flags all around that mark the boundaries of where you should and should not be in life. He describes his career as abnormal but time-rich. After discussing the lure of normality, Ashwin finishes by asking “Who profits from normality?” — an intriguing and thought-provoking question to ask.

The social conditioning of normality

Professor Emeritus Allan Horwitz, author of “What’s Normal? Reconciling Biology and Culture”, joins Paul in this episode of Idioms of Normality. Allan discusses a sociological and biological approach to understanding normality. His wealth of experience researching mental health is brought into the discussion to enlighten how cultural and biological imperatives can sometimes operate in conflict with each other.

Normality, Diseases, and Uncertainty.

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul meets with Associate Professor Greg Fox who works on infectious lung disease in Vietnam and Australia. Greg talks about how the normal is defined in clinical and epidemiological terms as well as its use and application for patients. While serving a diagnostic function, when the normal is brought out of the diagnostic toolkit, does it simply become a tool of reassurance?

Challenging Common Sense

In this episode, Paul meets with philosopher Tim Dean. Tim answers the coming of age question, “what is normal?”, and discusses how two types of social norms, descriptive and prescriptive norms, can often bleed into each other. In a broad sweeping conversation, Paul and Tim discuss the social consequences that can follow from this confusion.

Changing the world with edible bugs

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with entomologist and food scientist, Skye Blackburn. We talk about bugs in your food. What started off as a fun hobby for Skye has turned into a world-changing enterprise to hook people on edible bugs.

Beyond Normality

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Dr Bob Rich, author of From Depression to Contentment. Bob discusses the challenges faced by people in contemporary society, as well as some of the tools in his latest book that offers therapeutic pathways to heal scars as well as spiritual tools to strive for contentment and hopefully even enlightenment.

https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2020/10/04/chapter-1-from-depression-to-contentment-a-self-therapy-guide/

The Hauntings of Normality

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with Associate Professor Tess Lea, author of Wild Policy. They discuss the legacy that can be left by policy and legislation for future generations and the ghosts of the past that can haunt and predate future generations based on the standards of normality promoted by past generations.

The parameters of normality

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul speaks with actor Nicholas Hope. They discuss the boundaries of what communities define as normal, the codes and standards that can go global, and the diverse viewpoints from which normality can be defined.

What does it mean “normality”?

In this interview, Paul speaks with Associate Professor Elizabeth Stephens from the University of Queensland who co-authored “Normality: A critical Genealogy” with Emeritus Professor Peter Cryle. Elizabeth talks about the history of the concept of normality and its ongoing persistence in contemporary popular culture.

Disrupting Normality – To save the planet.

In this episode, Paul speaks with Chief Conservation Officer at WWF Australia. Rachel talks about normalising good habits and patterns of behaviour in addressing environmental issues and habitat destruction as well as how we need to set new standards in policy and legislation. This enlightening conversation looks at ways to disrupt bad patterns as well as methods to instill patterns that are congruent with the health of the planet.

What do wild animals teach us about leadership?

In this episode, Paul speaks with Erna Walraven, Emeritus Curator and Senior Curator at Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Her book, “Wild Leadership: What wild animals teach us about leadership”, has been widely acclaimed as an insightful analysis into hierarchical social structures in other animals as well as a valuable tool for reflection about leadership among humans.
I hope you enjoy Erna’s perspectives as much as we did!

Does the concept of normality produce inequality?

In this episode, Paul speaks with Dr. Alice Krozer, a researcher based in Mexico working on inequalities. She is also the host of the Inequalities podcast on FutureFramed.TV.
They speak about normality, inequality, and how both of these concepts influence the other.
Have a watch!

Challenging the Conventional Western Diet

In this episode of Idioms of Normality, Paul meets Ruth Galloway who talks about crickets, gateway bugs, and edible insects. Ruth runs The Cricket Bakery and has been challenging the conventional Western diet for over six years by making and selling insect food for human consumption. What is a normal diet? And, what are the ethics of our eating habits?

What is normal? How does normality impact our lives? What would the world look like if we took seriously the idea that normality is not real? Accompany Paul on his exploratory tour to better understand the way in which people think about normality and the way it shapes our lives and impacts the planet.

In this episode, Paul speaks with Ash Morse a musician and psychotherapist based in Australia. They talk about Ash’s journey from a religious upbringing to becoming a stage musician and psychotherapist who questions normality in his everyday practice.

Can “ugliness” be pathologized?

In this episode, Paul speaks with the medical doctor and philosopher Dr Yves Saint James, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values at the University of Wollongong. Yves talks about definitions of normality in medicine and how ugliness is becoming pathologized in some branches of cosmetic and plastic surgery.

Seeing Normality as Commonality

In this episode, Paul speaks with Professor Greg Downey, an anthropologist at Macquarie University. They speak about normality in relation to elite performance, gender, blindness, neurodiversity, and the discrete privileged populations upon which the statistics of normality have been based.

Sexuality, Religion, and Culture.

In this episode, Paul speaks with Dr Siobhan Irving. She is an anthropologist based in Australia who has studied sexuality, religion, and culture in both Australia and Singapore. We speak about her personal reflections on normality as well as some of the theoretical dimensions as they play out in her work as an anthropologist.

Is normality stressful?

In this episode, Paul speaks with Dr Monty Badami, CEO of Habitus a social enterprise empowering people to work together more creatively and resiliently. He talks about normality in relation to human diversity and raises important questions about how normality is conceived and rolled out across diverse populations.

In the first episode, Paul speaks with Professor Anina Rich, a cognitive scientist at Macquarie University. We speak about synaesthesia, a condition where the senses become mixed in diverse combinations. For example, individuals might experience colour percepts in response to numbers, letters or words, or perhaps feel shapes in response to smells or tastes. A benign condition, synaesthesia is a fascinating case example to problematise and rethink what is normal.

Dr Paul Mason is an Australian anthropologist who works on human and planetary health. In this space, we share the conversations Paul has about normality with people from all walks of life from Australia and around the world.

What is normal? How does normality impact our lives? What would the world look like if we took seriously the idea that normality is not real? Accompany Paul on his exploratory tour to better understand the way in which people think about normality and the way it shapes our lives and impacts upon the planet.

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