Hanuman’s Ocean: Land and water at Rama’s Bridge

On the poet John Keats’ grave in Rome are the words ‘here lies one whose name was writ in water.’ First reading Keats in my late teens, I have always held a mental picture of those words as his name traced on the surface of the sea. It is a wonderful image, the letters written in water, the dark mobile surface swirling and closing over each momentary mark.

Rama’s Bridge, NASA image

My second Asialink Arts writing project with EarthCoLab takes as its focus Rama’s Bridge, a shifting line of sandbanks, reefs and islands traced across thirty kilometres of ocean between India and Sri Lanka, connecting Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar. Continue reading

The Sacred Conch: multi-species explorations in Palk Strait

‘For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,

And went all naked to the hungry shark;

For them his ears gush’d blood.’

(John Keats, Isabella. 1818)

 

At the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, seven war conches are named as their owners sound them at the start of the climactic Kurukshetra battle, including warrior Arjuna’s Devadatta, and his charioteer Krishna’s Panchajanya. War conches are shankha, the same sacred or divine conch that is used in Hindu and Buddhist ritual, Ayurvedic medicine, Indian marriage ceremonies and numerous other occasions.

The conch seems an unlikely candidate to reach the level of reverence it does in India, and in fact in numerous other cultures. It is a large marine gastropod, a big sea snail. The specific animal revered as shankha is Turbinella pyrum, and is common on the southern coasts of India and Sri Lanka. In its living form it is not obviously attractive, the shell being covered by a dark brown mantle of soft tissue. Once processed, it is a shining white symbol of the divine. Continue reading

Spirit horses

The next minutes are completely mesmerising. The two stallions fight, fifty metres from me. Dust hangs in the air around them, their screams echo off the hills, the impact of their hoof strikes reverberates in my belly. They rear, scream, snake heads out to bite, whirl and kick.

Stallion, Kosciuszko. Image: Dr Andrea Harvey

This week The Conversation published my ‘Friday Essay’ on wild horses in Australia, and the excerpt above describes one of my many wild horse encounters. Horses are the most recent of the main species humans domesticated, and the least different (with cats) from their wild counterparts.

Australia has the largest wild horse herd in the world, 400,000 or more, spread across nearly every landscape in the country, and their presence is deeply controversial. Six thousand of them are in Kosciuszko National Park. The polarised reactions and accusations in the comments thread to my essay demonstrate entrenched views on both sides. Unfortunately, the comments often also demonstrate fairly unthinking responses, with little attention to the substance of the essay. Continue reading

Meet Scott McKinnon

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 be introducing some of our academics and PhD Candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Dr Scott McKinnon is a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow who joined AUSCCER in March 2017. In this blog post Scott shares his research interests, current projects and some sage advice for PhD students.

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Meet Razia Sultana

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 be introducing some of our academics and PhD Candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Meet Razia Sultana

Raiza Sultana is a second year PhD Candidate with AUSSCER. Her research is titled ‘Urban Green Infrastructure in the Global South: Adapting Slums to Climate Change in Dhaka, Bangladesh’ and is being supervised by Dr Thomas Birtchnell and Associate Professor Nick Gill. In this blog post Razia answers some questions about her research and her PhD experience so far.  Continue reading

Extended Deadline: 2018 Housing Theory Symposium

2018 Housing Theory Symposium Call For Papers

The Financialisation of Housing

School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong

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5-6 February, 2018

Convenors: Nicole Cook and Charles Gillon

The School of Geography and Sustainable Communities is very excited to be hosting the 2018 instalment of the Housing Theory Symposium, centred on the theme of ‘The Financialisation of Housing’.

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Meet Andrew Glover

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 be introducing some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Dr Andrew Glover is a visiting Research Fellow from RMIT University, Melbourne. In this blog post he answers some questions about his research.

What are your research interests?

Broadly, I’m interested in social practices as they relate to sustainability. That means I’m interested in how and why we move, both physically and digitally, because these inevitably have implications for the resources we use and the environmental impact we have. I’m also interested in the sociology of consumption and waste. Continue reading

Meet Freya Croft

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 be introducing some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Freya is in the first year of her PhD, initially starting her studies in history, but transferred to human geography and AUSCCER at the start of 2017. She is supervised by Associate Professor Michael Adams and Dr Jenny Atchison. In this post Freya answers some questions about her research.

Freya, about to dive the Exmouth Navy Pier at Ningaloo Reef, WA.

 

What is the focus of your research?

Photo by Alex Kydd from Ningaloo Wildlife Encounters. Tiger Shark and snorkelers in the water at Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef, WA.

Put broadly, the topic of my research is storytelling and ocean conservation.  I’m interested in the ways in which storytelling can act as a catalyst for change and inspire stewardship of the marine environment.

I am really interested in the ways in which emotions shape the encounters humans have in marine environments and how these can be used to encourage people to alter their behaviour to be more conservation minded.  Continue reading

PhD Scholarship Opportunity – Smart City Living Labs

AUSCCER and the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities have an exciting PhD Scholarship opportunity for someone interested in research on urban experimentation and the Smart City, supervised by Professor Pauline McGuirk.

Urban Experimentation and the Smart City Continue reading

RGS-IBG 2017 Annual International Conference London – who, what, where and when

The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers 2017 Annual International Conference is being held in London from Tuesday 29th August to Friday 1st September. This year the conference theme is ‘Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out to the world‘.

Listed below are the AUSCCER crew who will be attending, chairing sessions, authoring and presenting papers.

You can follow the conference proceedings on twitter with the hashtag #RGSIBG2017 or via their personal twitter handles.

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