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 van Holstein: Ellen’s photo illustrates her interest in how understandings of community and property intersect in community gardens. In her work she explores how those intersecting ideas guide usage of resources such as water, space and time as well as people’s willingness to share those.
Sophie-May Kerr: Social and environmental transformations that address high carbon and space-intensive urban lifestyles demand research attention. My goal is to inform understandings of sustainable urban living by examining sharing as a sustainable practice. I will focus on the way urban residents share space (for instance, by living in apartments) and material resources (such as vehicles and household items). The research will consider how apartments might be made an attractive long-term residential option for a diverse population, including families. Photo credit: Anthony Kerr
Charlie Gillon: My PhD project is focused on newly built housing estates that market a natural lifestyle in urban coastal locations. This picture is of one of those estates: Greenhills Beach, in Cronulla NSW (taken March 2014). It illustrates a number of elements I am researching: construction sites, the decision making of homeowners, the different designs of homes, the building of community in a new place, and the role of the natural environment in everyday life.
Susannah Clement: This is a photograph during the first ‘family walk’ I went on with participants for my PhD project. The dirt path runs along a suburban creek, leading the way to a swim centre where this family goes weekly for swimming lessons. I was really nervous during the walk so I didn’t have much of a chance to look around. I was so focused on what each member of the family was saying and doing to think about how the walk was affecting me. On the way back I stopped to take a photo and reflect on where I had just been.
Justin Westgate: Photographer Chris Jordan’s project ‘Running the numbers’ can be seen as a portrait of the planet – though not of the natural world but rather of the scale of human impact. This image ‘plastic bottles’ depicts the 2 million plastic beverage bottles that are used in just a 15-minute period in the US alone. Looking to the aesthetic is one way to help consider the implications of the ‘Age of Humans’ or the Anthropocene. This thesis asks us to fundamentally reconsider our relationship with the natural world – indeed a world that will increasingly be unlike the hospitable and stable one we have become accustomed to. My interest, then, is investigating pockets of imaginative thinking that aid us in better contemplating and indeed responding to what we might understand as post-natural futures.
Shaun McKiernan: This photo was captured during fieldwork last year in the Bega Valley with a landholder undertaking unique weed management through the use of camels. This photo is indicative of the Valley’s diversity that impugns top-down approaches to invasive plant management and highlights the need for multi-scalar research.
Carrie Wilkinson: My PhD project is interested in water’s agency, assemblages and materiality in the context of bushfire preparedness, defence and recovery. Specifically, I focus on the materiality of the rainwater tank in everyday life and ask how responses, at both the political and household level, to the problem of water provision and quality in bushfires would change were we to take seriously the vitality of non-human bodies.
Kiera Kent: For my PhD project, I am interested in children’s play in the city. I am looking at how children encounter materials in their play spaces. I am focusing on rock pools, as pictured above, and playgrounds in Wollongong as spaces for play.
Lance Barrie: My PhD will be looking at serious leisure cyclists what makes them tick. I am interested in how their cycling identities are formed and re-formed both during and after they have finished cycling and also why cyclists endure such high intensity fitness regimes.
Ryan Frazer: The photo depicts a rally which took place in February this year. Standing outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the group is protesting the harsh treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island. It was a highly emotional event, with one speaker even collapsing from stress – the affective atmosphere among the crowd was palpable. My project aims to explore these politics of emotions in the context of asylum seeking in Australia, engaging particularly with those who volunteer directly with refugees.
To find out more about AUSCCER’s students and their research, visit http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/ausccer/people/index.html.
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