In search of the innovative urban poor in the Global South

PhD Candidate Razia Sultana reflects on her fieldwork and conference trips made possible by being awarded UOW’s Global Challenges Travel Scholarship.

It is really hard to conduct research with a small HDR fund when your fieldwork is overseas!  The Global Challenges Travel Scholarship opened up a window of opportunity for me to back up my PhD field travel costs and present my research findings within an international arena. I am really fortunate to have that kind of opportunity!

Put broadly, my higher degree research addresses one of the pressing global challenges of today-that is, climate change. My field site is in Bangladesh which is one the most vulnerable countries to global climate change and faces various natural catastrophes almost every year. In particular, the issue of climate change has been complex for Dhaka– the capital city- due to frequent rural-urban migration, rapid increase of informal settlement and lack of knowledge about different mechanisms of coping and adaptive capacity of socio-economically disadvantaged. Continue reading

Why ask questions?

Like many, I’ve recently returned from the Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference in Canberra. I listened to some terrific research papers, especially by graduate students from around the country: well conceived, carefully planned and structured, rehearsed and timed, executed with interest and sometimes pizzazz.

But the speaker’s final word does not mark the end of the performance. It is now time for questions. There is a moment of tangible nervous energy in the room.

Continue reading

Call for interest in a rural natural resource management session for IAG 2015

The Institute of Australia Geography 2015 conference organisers are calling for session proposals. We are looking to provide a forum for environmental geographers and others working on natural resource and environmental management in rural areas, but we need your interest to put the session up! Our proposed session outline is below. If you are interested, please send us your paper titles as detailed below.

Natural resource management, land use change, and governance in peri-urban and high amenity rural areas: Taking stock.

Shaun McKiernan and Nicholas Gill, University of Wollongong

In 2012 Abrams et al reviewed the environmental implications of amenity migration to rural areas, concluding that it ‘is perhaps best conceptualised as a redistribution of (variably-defined) environmental harms and benefits at multiple scales, due to….[the] consequences of the uneven processes of recreating rural places’. Continue reading

Call for papers IAG/NZGS 2014: Nonhuman Agency

Institute of Australian Geographers/New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, University of Melbourne, 30th June – 2nd July 2014.

Organisers: Dr Leah Gibbs (University of Wollongong), Dr Andrew Warren (University of New England), Mr Charles Gillon (University of Wollongong)
This session is concerned with the agency of nonhumans in shaping environmental politics, environmental decisions, and everyday encounters. Nonhuman agency is currently the subject of research across cultural and posthumanist geographies, political ecology and political economy. Each of these fields brings into focus different aspects of the agency of nonhumans, as well as a range of critiques. Political economic research has been critiqued for adopting an overly constrained view of agency, and for failing to confront the political subjectivity of socio-natures. ‘The inadvertent consequence is a failure to address the full scope of environmental processes’ (Bakker 2010, 717). Cultural geography – and especially posthumanist approaches – have extended agency beyond the human realm, to consider agency of animals and objects, and more recently plants and elements (including freshwater and the sea). However, such accounts of distributive agency have been critiqued for flattening relations too much. Accounts of nonhuman agency enable better understanding of events and relations, the implications of environmental decisions and actions, and present opportunities to pose alternate questions of conceptual and practical importance. This session seeks to advance interrogation of the role of the agency of nonhuman animals, plants, elements, objects, and processes, and the question of which things and processes have the power to act. 
We welcome papers that focus on:
  • conceptual and theoretical questions;
  • theoretically informed empirical research;
  • methodology; and
  • political implications of nonhuman agency.
Session format: Standard paper session (4 papers). This session is being sponsored by the Cultural Geography Study Group.
Instructions: Please email Charles Gillon (  with your abstract of 250 words or less by March 28th. Additionally, submit your abstract on the conference website when you register.

Call for papers: Sustainability in the Anthropocene

Institute of Australian Geographers/New Zealand Geographical Society Conference University of Melbourne, June 30 to July 2, 2014.

Organisers: Dr Lauren Rickards (Uni Melb) and Prof Lesley Head (Uni Wollongong)

Still under review as a formal geological term, ‘the Anthropocene’ – the idea that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch due to the accumulated effect of human influences – is, like sustainability, an interdisciplinary concept. It not only brings together multiple scientific disciplines, from geologists and geomorphologists to ecologists and climate scientists, but is fast becoming an intellectual meeting point for a far wider range of scholars, including those coming from historical, political, economic, social and cultural perspectives. Combined with the way that the Anthropocene thesis challenges the ontological basis of the disciplinary divisions listed above, and demands close attention to spatial and temporalscale and boundaries, the Anthropocene is a rich theme for many geographers.

The implications of the Anthropocene for the environmental sustainability project are contested. Some commentators, including some of its originators, see the concept as a call-to-arms for the environmental movement. But others suggest that it reveals the environmental sustainability enterprise to be out-dated or out-moded: ahopeless or misguided exercise.  This session calls for papers that address challenges to sustainability in the Anthropocene from a range of critical perspectives. These could include papers on how issues such as climate change, ocean acidification or species extinctions are positioned within the Anthropocene discourse, critique of certain Anthropocene narratives or images, or implications of Anthropocene relationships for particular policy areas such as geoengineering, mining oragriculture. Other possible topics include the relationship between the Anthropocene and debates about ‘human impacts’, planetary boundaries, species thinking, the human-nature relationship and imaginaries of the future.

Session format: Normal paper format (4-6 papers), with possible discussant depending on number of papers

Instructions: Please email Lauren Rickards ( with your abstract of 250 words or less by March 28. And submit it on the conference website when you register.

Are you interested in submitting a paper for the IAG conference?

Ruth Lane (Monash University) and Juliana Mansvelt (Massey University) are proposing the following session for the Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) conference (30 June – 2 July 2014) and are seeking researchers who may be interested in submitting papers. If you’re interested please contact Ruth directly. Continue reading

Our most clicked posts in 2013

It’s been a busy year here and most AUSCCERites are now taking a well-deserved Christmas break. So for our final blog post of the year we’re revisiting some of our most clicked, read and shared pieces in 2013. Thanks for reading and sharing Conversations with AUSCCER this year and we’ll see you in 2014. Continue reading

IAG 2013 – an invaluable experience

Post by Justin Westgate

I had the opportunity to attend the Institute of Australian Geographers’ conference in July which was held in Perth. Having only recently begun doctoral studies here in Australia, and moving across from the more ‘creative’ space of design, the conference not only allowed me to get a gauge on the current landscape of research situated in Australia, but both posed and helped to answer questions about how my own research – which still draws on my creative practice background might intersect with other research strands currently being investigated. Continue reading

Reflections on the 2013 Institute of Australian Geographers Conference

AUSCCER’s Alex Tindale and Charles Gillon attended the 2013 Institute of Australian Geographers Conference in Perth from July 1 to 4. Here they reflect on their experience.

Alex Tindale
Early this month I attended the 2013 Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) Conference in Perth, Western Australia. In the lead-up to the conference I was quite nervous. As a first-year postgrad student, I was a little intimidated by the thought of presenting alongside some of Australia’s most prominent and respected geographers. Having only commenced my PhD candidature four months ago, I was still a little anxious at the (apparently common!) thought that perhaps my research wasn’t valuable or significant enough for the academic world. I had planned to present some preliminary research findings, and was falling into the trap of doubting myself as I prepared my presentation in the days leading up to the trip. I had no idea at that stage that a conference like this was going to be exactly what I needed. Continue reading