Eyes wide shut: bushfire, gendered norms and everyday life

“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

Why gender matters in emergency management

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

A stranger in Bangalore: reflections from the field

As I prepared to present my Indian work at the Relational Landscapes of Urbanisation Conference at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, I reflected on interactions with research participants. I visited Bangalore in January to scope out community gardens for future fieldwork.  With a research assistant I visited several communities of gardeners who were very eager to share their thoughts and show us around. Their enthusiasm made me think about what it means to be an outsider as a researcher and about how to be considerate in an unfamiliar environment.
Continue reading

Caught in the net of life and time: hunting

Last week Meanjin published an essay of mine. The tagline they used was ‘Michael Adams reflects on the relationships between hunters and their prey’. The Guardian has just reprinted it in their Comment section. The essay explores modern hunting, with some of it focusing on my own hunting. My thinking continues to evolve on these issues, and recent media indicates they continue to be important and controversial. Continue reading

Seeking households for Warm as Toast project

Do you have some form of central heating or reverse cycle air conditioning at home? If so, please consider being part of a University of Wollongong research project called Warm as toast? Home heating and energy use in the Illawarra. We seek households who are willing to discuss their home heating practices and energy use, and have their household electricity measured over approximately three months over winter 2014.

Continue reading

‘Getting stuff done’ on a bicycle

I love bicycles. Such simple, efficient, elegant machines. ‘The pinnacle of human endeavour’ according to my companion; I think he’s right. So I’m excited that Wollongong City Council is undertaking a City of Wollongong Bike Plan. More on that in a minute. First, a couple of reflections on cycling.  Continue reading

PhD Scholarship – environmental knowledge and practice of migrant food growers

Project title: Exploring the environmental knowledges and practices of migrant food growers in urban and peri-urban NSW

$AU25,392 per year (3 years max)

A fully-funded PhD scholarship worth $AU25,392 per year, for three years, is available in the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong. The project is entitled: ‘Exploring the environmental skills, knowledges and practices of migrant food growers in urban and peri-urban NSW’. The successful candidate will explore these practices in the context of broader discussions of sustainability and climate change adaptation.

The project is funded by University of Wollongong in association with an Australian Research Council Discovery Project awarded to Professor Lesley Head, Dr Natascha Klocker, Professor Gordon Waitt and Professor Heather Goodall. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will enrol by August 2014.

The PhD project is to examine the diverse food growing practices of migrants across formal and informal spaces in Sydney and the Illawarra including market gardens, community gardens, backyards and public spaces. It will consider how migrants’ diverse environmental knowledges, experiences in countries of origin, understandings of Australian environments and perceptions of climate change inform their food growing practices. The successful student will be responsible for conducting research with migrant food growers using a range of qualitative social scientific fieldwork methods. Funds are available to support research and field expenses.

Applications are sought from suitably qualified candidates with a First Class Honours Degree, and/or a Masters by Research degree in human geography, environmental social science, anthropology or related disciplines. Applicants will need to demonstrate research training as is evident in a substantial thesis characterised by primary research. Ability to speak a language other than English (which the applicant could show is relevant to migrant food growers in Sydney) would be an advantage, but is not essential.

Applicants should initially submit a letter outlining their suitability for this research and the nature of their research training and any thesis completed as part of their study so far, a CV, and academic transcripts for all degrees.

Send these documents to Professor Lesley Head at the email address below by 30th May 2014. Please ensure that all documents are contained in one single pdf file.

The successful applicant will be enrolled in a PhD in Human Geography at the University of Wollongong, supervised by Dr Natascha Klocker and Professor Lesley Head.

The scholarship is open to Australian and International applicants.

For further information about the project, please contact Professor Lesley Head lhead@uow.edu.au

Further information about the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities and AUSCCER can be found via:

http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/ausccer/index.html

http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/dgsc/index.html

As the smoke clears: Port Kembla’s stack and the place of industrial heritage

Port Kembla’s iconic smokestack stands no more. Towering above the Illawarra skyline since 1965, the 198 metre stack was demolished this morning. The Illawarra Mercury has provided rolling coverage leading up to the demolition. The demolition of the stack has divided opinion, but on the whole its removal appears positive – touted to instigate a revitalisation of Port Kembla’s social character, and an improvement in the Illawarra’s economic fortunes. Conversely, the demolition of Port Kembla’s stack highlights the uncertain place of industrial cultural heritage in today’s modern, technology-driven, climate-aware society.  Continue reading

AUSCCER welcomes Noel Castree

This week we have been very excited to welcome Prof Noel Castree and family to Wollongong. Noel has joined AUSCCER to help create the new Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities, in UOW’s new Faculty of Social Sciences. Amidst the banalities of a university restructuring (which printer do we now use? who signs this form? when is X going to make a decision about Y so that we can get on with Z? who pays for the milk?), we are thrilled to have Noel’s participation in a range of research, teaching and strategic discussions.Castree

Noel Castree’s scholarship on nature, politics and academic geography will be well known to many readers of this blog. His expertise in the political economy of environmental change adds breadth and depth to our existing expertise, and we hope that working in the Australian context will enrich his own work in a variety of ways.

We also hope to entice him to this blog, so watch this space!