Ecotherapies, forest therapies, and meditation have become increasingly popular across the globe in recent decades. While there is a growing body of studies on the health benefits of meditation and ecotherapies, the existing research involves universalised claims that fail to acknowledge the significance of local context, social practices, environmental settings, historical factors, and ideological and cultural elements. This gap is crucial given the widely accepted recognition in medical anthropology that holistic health is deeply informed by social and cultural context. Hong Kong provides an ideal base for undertaking ethnographic research on the social, cultural, historical, or ideological dimensions of ecotherapies or meditation practices in parts of Asia.
With over 30 million consumer-level virtual reality (VR) headsets sold across the globe as of 2021, social VR platforms (also known as metaverses) have seen a rapid rise in participation. Different kinds of transnational social groups are emerging on the VR platforms, including groups which focus on meditation, mental health, well-being, peer support, and related themes. The immersive and mediated dimensions of social VR and its capacity to generate a sense of presence provide a novel environment for social kinds of well-being practices. This project examines social VR groups that revolve around different well-being practices and is focused on the social, cultural, historical, and ideological dimensions of the practices. It includes theoretical perspectives on embodiment, presence, care, sensory experience, well-being, and modernity.
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Information on selected projects or research areas: Interested candidates are advised to email the relevant supervisors. Please enclose with your email: (i) your CV, (ii) a brief description of your research interest and experience, and (iii) two reference letters (reference letters not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med] or URIS projects)
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