Investigating whiteness and research fatigue in the study of Pacific climate change: A three part series

Post written by Dr Anja Kanngieser

Part 1: Whiteness and research practices

In this three part series I examine the impact of whiteness and research fatigue when considering climate change in the Pacific, and some directions from Pacific Studies on how to address it. Over three posts I will introduce the ways in which I have witnessed and been told about manifestations of whiteness in academic research; how lived experiences and perspectives push against academic inquiry and theorisations of resilience; and some tactics from Pacific Studies and Pacific Research Protocols for building reciprocity and exchange in climate change research. Continue reading

Water and the politics of environmental knowledge

This is the sixth post in our series on drought, flood and water. In this series we are making connections between AUSCCER researchers working on watery themes, and showcasing our research. This week, Leah Gibbs writes on the matter of water and the politics of environmental knowledge.

Early explorers of the Australian inland were so confident of finding fresh water that many carried boats with them on their expeditions. Finding the ‘inland sea’ – or a major inland river or lake upon which they could base a settlement – became a significant motivation for exploration. Expeditions were driven by social expectations of what the landscapes of this vast new continent should provide for the emerging nation.

But expectations were based on European environmental knowledge, imported from the British Isles through colonisation, and plonked onto Australian nature. A pattern of expectation and interaction set in train early in the colonial period continues to shape settler relations with water, and the politics of environmental knowledge. Continue reading

The matter of water

This post is the third in our series on drought, flood and water. In this series we are making connections between AUSCCER researchers working on watery themes, and showcasing our research. This week, Leah Gibbs writes on the materiality of water, as discussed in her forthcoming paper in Environment and Planning A, Bottles, bores and boats: agency of water assemblages in post/colonial inland Australia.

The politics of water in Australia is marked by an idea that water is separate, discrete matter. ‘Stuff’ that can be moved, used, manipulated as and when we humans choose. We drill bores, build dams, dig irrigation channels, desalinate the sea, to extract, contain, direct and now make fresh water. This idea of water as separate extends to how we think about water and how we govern it. We separate water physically, conceptually and bureaucratically. And unfortunately, the idea of separate water contributes to a good deal of misinformation and conflict.

But we don’t have to look far to see that water isn’t separate. And perhaps we can create ways of overturning the notion. In my watery research, I have found myself wondering how we might rethink water to provide a constructive alternative to the outmoded concept of separate water. In particular, I’ve been wondering what would happen if we took seriously the materiality of water. I’m in good company here: my musings are part of a body of work by geographers and friends in related fields interested in ‘taking materiality seriously’.

Continue reading

Aussie Rules, going down under and other clichés?

I’ve just arrived to a warm welcome at AUSCCER for a ten week visit from Durham University in the UK. After being installed at my desk with a computer now up and running, I’m raring to post on the AUSCCER blog. So a bit about my research. My PhD project is exploring the politics of creative practices, particularly performance, through a set of examples located in Bristol in the UK. Through theatre, spoken word and Carnival, I’m asking who can take part in performance in the city, as well as why and how they are able to do so. Broadly, this interrogates the relationship between creativity, memory and belonging, asking what ‘postcolonial’ might mean in Bristol, a city that grew as a node in the Atlantic slave trade, and as a site of settlement for Caribbean migrants from (eventually former) British colonies. Rather than focusing purely on the content of performance (ie variants on both Goffman’s and Butler’s differing theorisations of identity as performance), I have been interested in how contests over place and belonging emerge through the manners in which these events are put together, attended and disseminated. This relationship between creative practice and everyday life was what brought me to AUSCCER. The visit has been funded by my UK government funding body, the Economic and Social Research Council. Whilst here, I will be working with Professor Chris Gibson with the aim of submitting an article for publication by the end of my visit. I will also participate in the departmental seminar series, as well as engaging in many informal corridor, tea-room and coffee-based conversations!