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.
“When I decided to make this profession my career I cried because at that point in time [early 1980s] every woman who got pregnant or got married left the profession. Then I had to deal personally with accepting that I also was gay. That was a whole other crying moment because it’s like, okay, I chose a profession over what society says you’ve got to have—family.” Continue reading →
At first thought, many men (and some women) express a belief that gender inequality is an issue of the past that has been overcome by a generational shift within the emergency services. Upon greater reflection this notion usually turns out to be more complex than initially proclaimed. Continue reading →
“Pop-psychology”—this is the term used to define the obsession in public discourse and media with labelling of gender differences as if these differences are biologically set-in-stone. Western society’s captivation by such dichotomy-based definitions has problematic outcomes when, for example, in leadership debates men and women are portrayed as being incapable of getting along because their ways of communicating are too different.
I was witness to this very scenario at a Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference hosted by the NSW Rural Fire Service for 400-odd staff and volunteers in 2011. Continue reading →
Gender is a matter of social relations—i.e. social structures with enduring or widespread patterns, rather than an expression of dichotomous biology. Social characteristics, such as gender, cannot be understood in isolation of other social characteristics, such as class, education, disability, age, race and sexuality. As argued by Connell (2010, 6):
‘People construct themselves as masculine or feminine. We claim a place in the gender order – or respond to the place we have been given – by the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life.’
Why is this important in the context of emergency management? It matters for three key reasons. Continue reading →
Writing my first book was an incredible experience. Empowering when words flowed. Exhilarating when thoughts came together coherently on paper. Frustrating when nothing seemed to make sense – in my head or on paper. Terrifying when writer’s block set in. Mind numbing when faced with the fourth, let alone the four-hundredth round of edits and proofs. Gratifying, exhausting, emotional – sometimes all at once depending on the moment. An experience beyond words really. It was therefore both exciting and terrifying to invite four academic colleagues to provide a public critique of my newly published book Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Meeting – held this year in Tampa, Florida. The following is a summary of my author-meets-critics session.
Sexuality and gender is something that I’ve always spent a lot of time thinking about. Even when I’ve gotten it wrong (it’s been a regular feature of my life as a kid from the suburbs), I’ve tried to use it as an experience to help me get it right. It’s been a long, rocky, weaving, disastrous and beautiful trail. I’m not saying I understand things perfectly these days – I mean, who could? – but I feel I’ve definitely found enlightenment to the point where I can approach sex and gender from both a personal and an academic place and find meaning there. Writing a PhD from a queer perspective, you spend a lot of time interrogating your own life, trying to find meaning that is academically relatable. It’s not always apparent. Often it’s completely invisible, as your life descends into a mess that academic writing can never capture or represent. But sometimes personal experience is a catalysing process that lends meaning to everything that you write about, everything that you wanted to say but lacked the embodied form that makes expression possible, every thought that inhabits your daily being and inevitably threads its meaning into academic praxis anyway, so that as ever, the two become inseparable. Continue reading →
Are Australian men, women and households really as aware and prepared for bushfire emergencies as we think we are? This is one question that is explored in a topical new book by AUSCCER’s Dr Christine Eriksen.