Embodiment in Miami – final thoughts from America

Post by Nick Skilton

America is a bewildering place. The best and worst of everything. Sometimes it’s difficult to pull the whole scenario together into a comprehensible picture. You can grasp at the edges. Make mosaics out of fragments. Recall all the pop culture you’ve ever accumulated and attempt to overlay it upon reality. Doing so, certain nonsensical things begin to make sense, like American patriotism for ‘the greatest country in the world’. There is a lot to like about it. But there is a lot that isn’t great. For example, the real poverty and hardship of living with a minimum wage less than $10/hour. It’s a beautiful place visually, but sometimes life isn’t pretty. This is what confronts me in Miami, 8th most populous city in America. After 2 days, I have no idea what to make of this town. It’s too big and weird. The only way I am able to write about it, is to tweeze apart the layers and concentrate on one striking aspect of this place: Bodies. The differences in bodies were remarkably different on each day, almost dichotomous in nature. Hence I have attempted to write as such. Continue reading

When The Saints Go Marching In NOLA

Post written by Nick Skilton

It’s a weird thing to fall in love with a place, but that is what has happened. I have fallen in love with New Orleans. What does that mean exactly? Is it the way that a place makes you feel? Is it the people you connect with that give life to the place? Is it the opportunity that a place represents? Is this a ‘gut feeling’? There is obviously no one answer to that question. It is likely a combination of those things, and many more included. Trying to articulate the connections, opportunities, and gut feelings associated with loving a place in any meaningful kind of way, especially a place as chaotic as New Orleans, is part of the same impossible tragedy as describing any other kind of love (and better writers than me have failed at describing love). I’m not even the first writer from AUSCCER this month to make an attempt to uncover the words that will describe the ‘rawness’ and the ‘mesmerising’ engagement with this place. What this is then is an oratory, an attempt to tell New Orleans what made it so impressive, so beautiful, and so compelling. Continue reading

Looking for the Heart in America

By Nick Skilton

Nick Skilton is a PhD Candidate with the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. He is currently at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

CanineSexuality 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

AAG 2014 Tampa Conference, Day 1: Thoughts From The Bar

By Nick Skilton and Ellen van Holstein

Nick Skilton and Ellen van Holstein are both PhD Candidates with the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. They are currently at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

Nick presenting at the AAG conference in Tampa, Florida.

Nick presenting at the AAG conference in Tampa, Florida.

Nick: We’ve finally all found each in the downstairs bar of the Floridan Hotel. The chandeliers scream old school bling, and the waitress is surly because we don’t get tipping etiquette. They don’t have kettles in hotel rooms, but they have great bourbon, and burgers that get served ‘bloody’ enough to send me – the vegan AUSCCERite – upstairs to my room for dinner. Continue reading

What is distance labour?

Post written by Nick Skilton

In Australia as we know, the Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) workforce is highly visible. But does it adequately represent the true nature of Australia’s mobile workforce? I contend that a broader definition than ‘FIFO’ is required. The terminology that I intend to employ in my research is distance labour. More so than current definitions attempting to describe industries wherein the labourer is geographically separated from their families and social networks for long periods of time (miners, truck drivers, circuit judges, nannies, remote sex workers, remote health care professionals etc.), I contend that a broader inclusive definition will allow researchers to make comparisons between a labour force that is more diverse than the current discursive environment allows. Continue reading