Why money can’t buy disaster resilience

Every year disasters take lives, cause significant damage, inhibit development and contribute to conflict and forced migration. Unfortunately, the trend is an upward one. At the end of May 2017, policy-makers and disaster management experts from over 180 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss ways to counter this trend.

Florian Roth and I took the opportunity to reflect on the root causes of natural disasters Continue reading

Cyberspace, the ‘Blog’ and Research Writing

Post by Rae Dufty-Jones

Writing and Space Series: Post 3/3

… ‘our writing equipment takes part of the forming of our thoughts’ (Nietzsche, 2005 in Kitchin et al., 2013: 68).

I like the above quote from Nietzche (and I suspect that the reason why Kitchin et al. selected it as quote in their paper) is that it argues that what we write with (pen and paper or word processor) and what we disseminate our writing through (paper or a computer screen) are not passive mediums through which our writing is produced and received but are instead significant actants that play an integral role in influencing how our ideas develop and are understood by our readers. As Isin and Ruppert (2015: 2) succinctly put it ‘we not only do things with words but do words with things’. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of how the Internet and ‘cyberspace’ are changing research writing practices and products. Of particular interest to this series on writing and space is the way the various technologies associated with cyberspace have been variously heralded as a means of overcoming space-time barriers to how ideas/knowledge are disseminated. Continue reading

Unfinished business: What is being recognised?

Lisa Slater

Lisa Slater

Post by Lisa Slater

Paul Keating recently weighed into the push for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, stating the recognition project has lost direction. His invocation of ‘unfinished business’ was a salient reminder that the primary object of repair is the foundation of settler colonialism, and there is a need to transform the political and social relationship between Indigenous and settler Australia. What are settlers failing to see?

A few years back, I was attending Garma festival in northeast Arnhem Land, as part of a research project examining the significance of cultural festivals for improving Indigenous socio-cultural wellbeing.[1] Garma is cultural diplomacy at work: Yolhu (Traditional Owners of north-east Arnhem Land) invite government and non-government agencies, academics and political leaders onto Country to discuss and negotiate issues determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agendas. Alongside the main event, there were a series of other initiatives, one of which was a women’s cultural tourism program. I sat in on a workshop where Yolhu women were teaching Napaki (non-Indigenous) women about Yolhu kinship systems and responsibilities. Continue reading

Pedagogies of research writing: the role of space-time

Post by Rae Dufty-Jones

Writing and Space Series: Post 2/3

Last week’s blog opened this series on ‘writing and space’ with a reflection on how the sabbatical (if available) should be approached more strategically to create space for writing in the neoliberal university. This week I want to continue the theme of making space for writing with a reflection on the field of ‘pedagogies of research writing’. In particular I want to examine what such approaches have to offer in the broader context of the training/professionalization of higher degree research students and how human geography understandings of space-time may be applied to these approaches.

Continue reading

The Arctic route to Europe

Post by Haakon Lein

You might have seen the photo – a simple pile of bicycles that made it to the front page of the New York Times earlier this month. The photo was followed by an article about Syrian migrants reaching Europe through an ‘arctic bike race’. The story also reached Australian news, which explained how asylum seekers are using the northernmost (and for many a most unlikely) route, which requires that they pass the Russian–Norwegian border either by car or bike. As drivers who bring them directly to the border crossing risk being fined, the solution is to get on a bike when approaching the Russian border station.

 

murmansk_regionLast week, 489 asylum seekers crossed the border on bike, the week before 501. Before ending up on a bike at the border, they have come through Moscow either by bus, train or plane to the city of Murmansk. On this last part of this journey they will pass through a little known but truly fascinating region. For the last seven years our department has taken masters students in geography on an annual fieldtrip to Kirkenes, Murmansk and other parts of the Kola Peninsula. The purpose has been to provide initial training in practical fieldwork as well as to get the students to know more about our powerful neighbour to the east.  We have travelled the route the asylum seekers now take quite a number of times.

Continue reading

What makes a good academic book? A response

Guest blogger Tess Lea is an ARC QEII Fellow in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney.

Chris Gibson recently posted a thought-provoking review of my book on Darwin. It was the first review to take up the issue of risk-taking in writing, both from the perspective of writing about a place which is small enough that insults are consequential; and from the perspective of academic metrics. I was awestruck by Gibson’s insights and how he has honed in on my acute sense of vulnerability with this book.

As Gibson notes, Darwin completes a series on the capital cities of Australia by New South Books. I accepted the commission for two reasons. First, I will admit ego/vanity. I couldn’t bear the idea of someone else writing about Darwin, my birthplace. But second, I immediately saw it as an opportunity to address the challenge I have set myself in my current research. To wit: presuming I ever find a way to muddle through my current writing block and the thicket of ethnographic fragments I’ve accumulated about Indigenous housing and infrastructure, schools and health clinics, to address the question ‘can there be good social policy in regional and remote Australia?’ –– the question of communication remains. Continue reading

Guest blog post: @DrHG makes it Down Under

Today’s blog post comes to you from AUSCCER guest blogger Dr Hilary Geoghegan.

@DrHG in AUSCCER on her first day.

@DrHG in AUSCCER on her first day.

Every time I look out of the window from my desk here at AUSCCER I can’t quite believe that I am finally here in Australia. The light is different, the weather is different, and the trees are very different. I have been looking forward to this visit to AUSCCER for nearly 3 years. Yes, it has taken me that long to make it down here!  Continue reading

To continuing conversations!

After three months as a visiting research student at AUSCCER, I’m getting ready to go back to Sweden. I’m excited to go home, but also sad to leave – it’s been a great experience, and I’ve had a wonderful time. AUSCCER is a fantastic place to visit and a great environment for research and learning. The friendly and positive atmosphere of these hallways is inspirational, and the conversations I’ve had will stay with me for a good while.

Doing research can be lonely sometimes. An environment that allows for and encourages interaction, collaboration and creative exchanges makes it less so, and I think it also makes for better research. Creating such a space isn’t easy, and it takes hard work to keep it going. AUSCCER does it well. There’s a great sense of collegiality here, and it instantly extends to newcomers. AUSCCERites are interested in what their colleagues do, keen to find commonalities with their own work, and generous in taking time to offer thoughts and comments on each others’ ongoing projects and texts. As a guest at AUSCCER, I’ve felt welcome and included. It’s been easy to find common interests, get constructive feedback and inspiring input, and make new friends.

It seems to me that the efforts put into this blog and other social media are an important part of this. Blog posts and tweets are arguably more accessible than academic journal articles or books, making it easier to keep up with what everybody else is working on, suggest further readings or contacts, or exchange ideas. I don’t think it’s all Twitter, though. Multiple channels of communication, however innovative, wouldn’t mean much if AUSCCERites weren’t also genuinely interested in their peers and willing to share and contribute. It’s the people that make AUSCCER great, and I feel privileged to have had the chance to be a part of the AUSCCER community these past months.

Huge thanks to everyone for helping me make the most of my time in Australia. I hope to continue the conversations we’ve started in months and years to come!

Aussie Rules, going down under and other clichés?

I’ve just arrived to a warm welcome at AUSCCER for a ten week visit from Durham University in the UK. After being installed at my desk with a computer now up and running, I’m raring to post on the AUSCCER blog. So a bit about my research. My PhD project is exploring the politics of creative practices, particularly performance, through a set of examples located in Bristol in the UK. Through theatre, spoken word and Carnival, I’m asking who can take part in performance in the city, as well as why and how they are able to do so. Broadly, this interrogates the relationship between creativity, memory and belonging, asking what ‘postcolonial’ might mean in Bristol, a city that grew as a node in the Atlantic slave trade, and as a site of settlement for Caribbean migrants from (eventually former) British colonies. Rather than focusing purely on the content of performance (ie variants on both Goffman’s and Butler’s differing theorisations of identity as performance), I have been interested in how contests over place and belonging emerge through the manners in which these events are put together, attended and disseminated. This relationship between creative practice and everyday life was what brought me to AUSCCER. The visit has been funded by my UK government funding body, the Economic and Social Research Council. Whilst here, I will be working with Professor Chris Gibson with the aim of submitting an article for publication by the end of my visit. I will also participate in the departmental seminar series, as well as engaging in many informal corridor, tea-room and coffee-based conversations!

Looking forward to conversations with AUSCCER

Ever since I started my PhD studies, I’ve wanted to spend some time abroad – and with regards to my research topics, Australia’s been on top of the list. I got in touch with Michael Adams and Lesley Head towards the end of last year, and as I learned more about the research environment at UOW and AUSCCER I became even more set on making my trip happen. I’m so excited to be here, and although it still feels a bit surreal that I actually made it, I’m already sure that this will be one of the best experiences of my PhD. I’m here until the end of October, hoping to learn from and be inspired by the fascinating research being done here and the friendly and interesting people doing it. Thanks to Lesley and Michael for inviting me and helping me find ways to make the most of my stay here, and to all of the AUSCCER people for welcoming me into the group, showing me around, and sharing their work!

I am doing my PhD in Political Science at Umeå University, Sweden, as part of a project called Indigenous rights and nature conservation. My research is focused on indigenous peoples’ role and participation in nature conservation policy and management, with a particular interest in protected areas on indigenous lands. My main area of study will be protected areas in the Swedish and Norwegian parts of Sápmi (the traditional lands of the Sámi people, stretching over the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula), but as I started out I realized I didn’t know enough about the international framework for nature conservation and protected areas and so I decided to begin my analysis there. I have recently finished a paper on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, where I argue that the convention text presents a rather narrow space for political agency for indigenous people regarding the influence over and participation in the management of biological resources, and that the discursive construction of indigenous subject positions within the convention clearly includes (post-) colonial notions and power relations. I will go on to study other central agreements and international instruments in this area, e.g. the World Heritage Convention and the IUCN’s categories for protected areas, and that’s what I’ll be working on during my time here at AUSCCER.

I’m looking forward to many conversations with AUSCCER over the next couple of months. Come find me in the corridors or email me at elsa.reimerson [at] pol.umu.se – I’m always up for a coffee!