On One Breath

Flying in to the Big Island of Hawai’i, the two largest volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, are capped with snow and surrounded by an aureola of clouds. Driving east to west across the island between the volcanoes, I pass through several climatic zones and multiple ecosystems. The journey takes me from the wet, windward eastern side to the much drier lee coast on the west.

It’s my second time on a tropical archipelago in a few months. In February I accompanied ten UOW undergraduates to India’s Andaman Islands for our pilot iteration of GEOG334 ‘Geographies of Change: International Fieldwork’. A great trip with a fantastic group of students – fun, resilient and very hard-working. Relevant to this research blog because each student completed their first ever independent research project while there, ranging from studying the territorial behaviour of damsel fish, to a detailed supply chain analysis of everything we ate. Great work.


The Apneista team, Indonesia (http://apneista.com/)

But I’m in Hawai’i to continue research on freediving, which I started last year in Indonesia. Freediving, or breath-hold diving, is at once a commonplace and unique form of engagement between humans and oceans. Continue reading

Meet Lance Barrie

Lance Barrie

Lance Barrie

The Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) is a teaching and research group focusing on cultural and social aspects of environmental issues. AUSCCER’s expertise and research is wide-ranging. Over the next few months we’ll introduce some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Lance Barrie began his PhD with AUSCCER at the start of 2015. Here he answers questions about his research.


You’re in the early stages of your PhD candidature. How would you describe the focus of your research?

My research will explore the lived experience of cycling in Wollongong. I find cycling culture and the people that cycle really interesting and would like to capture in my research the visceral and sensorial experiences of riding. Cyclists are generally viewed by the media and some community members as second class citizens when using shared roads, and part of the reason for this is the discourse around cycling. A lot of cycling research takes a positivist approach and discusses cycling and cyclists in a particular way, categorising and grouping them using traditional methodologies such as surveys and using static measures such as distance travelled. In my PhD, I hope to take a step back; Instead of having a pre-conceived idea about what cycling is or who cyclists are, I will explore what cyclists’ bodies do.

Continue reading

‘Camel country': on radio 3CR & Geoforum

Camels are the focus of this week’s ‘Freedom of Species’ program on 3CR Independent Radio. AUSCCER’s Leah Gibbs will be talking with 3CR’s Emma Townshend this Sunday, 17 May, at 1pm on 3CR (855am). You can also catch the show later as an MP3.

The interview comes on the back of a paper recently published in Geoforum, by Leah Gibbs, Jennifer Atchison and Ingereth Macfarlane, titled: ‘Camel Country: assemblage, belonging and scale in invasive species geographies’. Below is a taster of the published paper.

Invasive species and their impacts have become a focus of global environmental policy and action. Invasive, alien and in Australia ‘feral’ species have come to represent categories of destructive animals and plants that do not belong. They are frequently pitted against ‘native’ species, which are deemed good and do belong. But in the context of contemporary environmental change and uncertainty, established categories such as ‘invasive’ species need to be examined more closely.  Continue reading

DGSC sense of community grows with the establishment of a student led Human Geography Society

Post by Sophie-May Kerr

On Tuesday 21st April 2015 the University of Wollongong Human Geography Society (UOW HuGS) was officially established!  The inaugural meeting for the society was attended by undergraduates, postgraduates and staff. The committee elected to run the society in 2015 are: Sophie-May Kerr (president), Carrie Wilkinson (vice president), Charlie Gillon (treasurer), Elizabeth Oliver (secretary), Susannah Clement (post grad rep) and Emily O’Donnell (undergrad rep).


UOW Human Geography Society Committee

Continue reading

Special guest lecture from refugee advocate Abdul Karim Hekmat

The Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities is holding a special guest lecture as part of our first year subject GEOG121 (Human Geography I: Life in a globalising world).

On Tuesday May 12 at 2.30pm in 14.G01, we will hear from prominent refugee advocate Abdul Karim Hekmat on the situation facing Hazara refugees. A short bio is included below.

“Abdul Karim Hekmat arrived as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001 and spent five months in detention in Australia. Since graduating with honours from UTS under a temporary protection visa scheme, Abdul has participated in many forums, local and international conferences and media debates on refugee issues. Abdul works at a community organisation helping young people from refugee backgrounds. In 2012, he was awarded UTS Alumni Community Award and was recognised as a Refugee Ambassador in 2013. Recently, he was elected as a board member of Refugee Council of Australia” (see http://www.theguardian.com/profile/abdul-karim-hekmat)

Abdul has written multiple articles about refugee issues for The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australia, The Age, ABC News and The Saturday paper.

Please feel free to come along for this important lecture.

You can contact Natascha Klocker with any questions: [email protected]

Meet Ryan Frazer

Ryan FrazerThe Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) is a teaching and research group focusing on cultural and social aspects of environmental issues. AUSCCER’s expertise and research is wide-ranging. Over the next few months we’ll introduce some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Ryan Frazer began his PhD with AUSCCER at the start of 2015. Here he answers questions about his research.


What is the focus of your research?

My research focuses on the experiences of Australians who volunteer with newly settled refugees. In particular, I’m interested in the politics of emotions: how emotions form the bodies of individuals, collectives and nations; how emotions have political effects and how politics affects emotions. I’m also interested in voluntary labour and its relation to citizenship, political activism and ethics. Continue reading

Reflections from AAG 2015 on the notion of slow scholarship

“So the issue,” writes Martell, “is not speed, but control over speed. … In effect what slow is reintroducing is being human and well-being.”

The above quote is one of the arguments presented in a forthcoming article in ACME: An International E-journal for Critical Geographies advocating a movement For Slow Scholarship. Written by Alison Mountz and colleagues, the article develops a feminist ethics of care that challenges the isolating effects and embodied work conditions inherent to the increasing demands placed on academics within the neoliberal university.

The collectively written article explores alternatives to the fast-paced, metric-oriented neoliberal university – an argument contextualised in: a) an examination of how “the ‘slow’ in slow scholarship is not just about time, but about structures of power and inequality”, and b) the premise that “Care work is work. It is not self-indulgent; it is radical and necessary.”

This argument defines my experience of this year’s Association of American Geographers Annual Conference in Chicago. Continue reading

Chicago here we come!

We are two weeks away from one of geography’s largest conferences – the Association of American Geographers, held this year in Chicago, Illinois.  A dozen AUSCCERites will be presenting some of their latest work, from Mining and Sex Work, to Indigenous Invasive Plant Management in Northern Australia.

If you’re attending the conference, keep an eye out for the following speakers and session times. If you’re not lucky enough to find yourself in Chicago, make sure you keep up to date with the latest discussions by following #AAG2015 on Twitter. Continue reading

Talking research through photographs: notes from the Geographical Society of NSW’s Postgraduate Networking Day

Introduction by Ellen van Holstein

Each year the Geographical Society of New South Wales invites postgraduate students from all over New South Wales to meet up and talk research. Students were invited to bring a picture and briefly present their work based on that image. The event also encouraged the exchange of advice about how to manage a PhD and how to do conferences. The University of Wollongong cohort of postgraduates was represented with ten candidates. The event was an excellent opportunity to think about the core messages of our research projects and to reflect on what it is that makes our geographical minds tick. Having ten new postgraduates start PhDs in geography at the University of Wollongong this year, it was also a great opportunities for old and new AUSCCER postgraduates to get to know each other better and to revel once again in the great wealth of research diversity that AUSCCER accommodates. To get a glimpse of that diversity please click through the photos of the ten AUSCCERites who attended the Geographical Society of New South Wales postgraduate meeting.

Ellen's photo Continue reading

Is walking becoming redundant?

According to the most recent census data, the average Australian household owns one or more vehicles with close to 65% of the workforce traveling to work each day by car, compared to less than 4% who walk. Furthermore, according to the 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People only 33% of children and young people walk or cycle to school, with this average dropping when they reach high school. Public health experts are continually urging us stop sitting at our desks and move more through the promotion of ‘walk to school’ days, but many are cynical of the retention and upkeep of these one-off practices. So what does this mean for our health, the sustainability of our transport systems and the relationships we have with our neighbourhoods? What does this mean for walking? Continue reading