Christine Eriksen

Christine Eriksen

Position: Senior Research Fellow/Social Geographer
Twitter: @DrCEriksen


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Human Geography (2010)
    University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults (CELTA) (2006)
    South Thames College, UK
  • Oxford Cambridge RSA Level 3 Certificate in Off-Site Safety Management (2005)
    Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK
  • Master of Arts in Human Geography (2004)
    King's College London, University of London, UK
  • Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Geography and Social Anthropology (2003)
    School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, UK
  • Certificate in Natural History (2000)
    Centre for Continuing Education, Edinburgh University, UK

Previous Positions

  • 2015 - Present: Senior Research Fellow, Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA), University of Wollongong
  • 2013 - 2015: Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) & Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires (CERMB), University of Wollongong
  • Spring 2011: Visiting Scholar, Department of Geography and Planning, California State University, Chico
  • 2010 - 2012: Associate Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, University of Wollongong
  • 2007 - 2008: Co-Investigator, Multi-Campus Outdoor Teaching Principles and Practice Project, University of Wollongong
  • 2006: In-Country Supervisor, Sustainable Development & Community Enterprise Initiative, Ibo Island, Mozambique, Sindisa Foundation
  • 2004 - 2006: Training and Administration Officer, Expedition Advisory Centre, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK

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Research Interests and Expertise

  • Social, cultural and political dimensions of hazards adaptation and coping capacity
  • Gendered dimensions of risk resilience
  • The role and place of indigenous and local environmental knowledge in global frameworks
  • Resilience and vulnerability driven by faith - sacred and secular 
  • The environmental history of sustainable land management

My current research in Australia and the USA, as well as previous work in Africa, focuses on the trade-offs people make between risks and benefits. I contextualise these trade-offs at scales ranging from individual households and community networks to official management agencies. I use mixed-methods that triangulate surveys with ethnographic fieldwork to examine how people engage with social and environmental uncertainty in everyday life.

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Current Research Projects

Bushfires, faith and community cohesion
This project aims to identify key ways to heighten resilience by examining how faith (sacred and secular) affects the ability of individuals and communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires. Using ethnographic methods, the research critically examines evidence of bushfire vulnerability, resilience and adaptation strategies driven by, retained in, or promoted through faith and ethics. By critically examining how faith affects risk engagement, this project accentuates the choices we face as individuals and as a nation in terms of mitigating and adapting to extreme events and a changing climate. An Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) funds this project.

Gender and wildfire: landscapes of uncertainty
This project follows women’s and men’s stories of surviving, fighting, evacuating, mitigating, living and working with wildfire in southeast Australia and the west coast United States to reveal the intimate inner workings of wildfire response – and especially the culturally and historically distinct gender relations that underpin wildfire resilience. Many of the lessons learnt from 2007 – 2013 are available in my sole-authored book Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty (2014). Reviews of my book have been published in Society and Natural Resources and Geographical Research and I discuss the research in this OpenUOW video:

What does being ‘well-prepared’ for wildfire mean?
Collaborative interdisciplinary research with Dr Tim Prior (Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich) that examines what ‘well prepared’ actually means to agency staff, brigade volunteers, and at-risk residents respectively. It considers how different interpretations of and engagement with practical and mental preparedness factors contribute to or hamper wildfire resilience.

Indigenous fire knowledge retention and revival
Collaborative interdisciplinary research with Dr Don Hankins (California State University, Chico), which explores Aboriginal Australian and Native American perspectives on fire past, present and future. It examines the current status of eco-cultural fire knowledge and practices in eastern Australia and in California and the socio-political role and place of Indigenous fire perspectives in the wildfire management policies and practices of state and federal agencies.

Retrofitting for resilience
Collaborative interdisciplinary research with Dr Trent Penman (CERMB) and Prof Paul Cooper (SBRC) funded by Wyong Shire Council, NSW. The project aims to assess the feasibility of retrofitting pre-1999 built dwellings to a standard that increases their resilience to bushfire attack with a finite budget shared 50-50 by local council and homeowners. The feasibility of retrofitting these dwellings is assessed from a social, economic and engineering perspective.

Flame and fortune: the production and consumption of wildfire vulnerability
In connection with the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm, this collaborative project with Dr Gregory Simon (University of Colorado Denver) examines perceptions of risk and vulnerability by homeowners and emergency services in the Oakland Hills, California. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research.

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Recent Publications

For full publication and citation list see UOW Research Online >>

  • Eriksen, C. (2014) Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty. New York: Routledge

Journal Papers
  • Eriksen, C. and Simon, G. (2016) ‘The Affluence-Vulnerability Interface: Intersecting Scales of Risk, Privilege and Disaster’, Environment and Planning A, Open access 
  • Eriksen, C. (2016) ‘Research Ethics, Trauma and Self-care: Reflections on Disaster Geographies’, Australian Geographer, Open access 
  • Sword-Daniels, V., Eriksen, C., Hudson-Doyle, E., Alaniz, R., Adler, C., Schenk, T. & Vallance, S. (2016) ‘Embodied Uncertainty: Living with Complexity and Natural Hazards’, Journal of Risk Research Open access
  • Eriksen, C., G. Waitt, & C. Wilkinson (2016) ‘Gendered Dynamics of Wildland Firefighting in Australia’, Society and Natural Resources, 29(11), pp.1296-1310
  • Eriksen, C., Penman, T., Horsey, B., & Bradstock, R. (2016) 'Wildfire Survival Plans in Theory and Practice', International Journal of Wildland Fire, 25(4), pp.363-377
  • Penman, T., Eriksen, C., Horsey, B., & Bradstock, R. (2016) 'How Much Does it Cost Residents to Prepare their Property for Wildfire?', International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 16, pp.88-98
  • Whittaker, J., Eriksen, C. & Haynes, K. (2015) ‘Gendered responses to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia’, Geographical Research, 54(2), pp.203-215
  • Wilkinson, C., Eriksen, C. & Penman T. (2016) ‘Into the Firing Line: Civilian Ingress during the 2013 ‘‘Red October’’ Bushfires, Australia. Natural Hazards, 80(1), pp.521-538
  • Wilkinson, C. & Eriksen, C. (2015) ‘Fire, Water and Everyday Life: Bushfire and household defence in a changing climate’, Fire Safety Journal, 78, pp.102-110
  • Eriksen, C. & Ditrich, T. (2015) ‘The relevance of mindfulness practice for trauma-exposed disaster researchers’, 17, pp.63-69
  • Gill, N., Dun, O., Brennan-Horley, C., & Eriksen, C. (2015) 'Landscape Preferences, Amenity and Bushfire Risk in New South Wales, Australia', Environmental Management, 56(3), pp.738-753
  • Eriksen, C. & Hankins, D. (2014) ‘The Retention, Revival and Subjugation of Indigenous Fire Knowledge through Agency Fire Fighting in Eastern Australia and California, USA’, Society and Natural Resources, 27(12), pp.1288-1303
  • Eriksen, C. & Head, L. (2014) ‘Guest Editorial: Geographical Fire Research in Australia – Review and Prospects’, Geographical Research, 52(1), pp.1-5
  • Eriksen, C. (2014) ‘Gendered Risk Engagement: Challenging the Embedded Vulnerability, Social Norms and Power Relations in Conventional Australian Bushfire Education’, Geographical Research, 52(1), pp.23-33
  • The World Social Science (WSS) fellows on Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA): Doyle, E. E. H., Khan, S., Adler, C., Alaniz, R. C., Athayde, S., Lin, K-H. E., Saunders, W., Schenk, T., Sosa-Rodriguez, F., Sword-Daniels, V., … Eriksen, C. et al. (2014) ‘Reporting on the Seminar - Risk Interpretation and Action (RIA): Decision Making Under Conditions of Uncertainty’, Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 18(1), pp.27-37
  • Prior, T. & Eriksen, C. (2013) ‘Wildfire preparedness, community cohesion and social-ecological systems’, Global Environmental Change, 23(6), pp.1575-1586
  • Eriksen, C. & Prior, T. (2013) ‘Defining the Importance of Mental Preparedness for Risk Communication and Residents Well-Prepared for Wildfire’ International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 6, pp.87-97
  • Penman, T.D., C. Eriksen, R. Blanchi, M. Chladil, A.M. Gill, K. Haynes, J. Leonard, J. McLennan, R.A. Bradstock (2013) ‘Defining adequate means of residents to prepare property for protection from wildfire’, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 6, pp.67-77
  • Gill, N., Adams, M. & Eriksen, C. (2011) ‘Engaging with the (Un)Familiar: Field Teaching in a Multi-Campus Teaching Environment’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(2), pp.259-275
  • Eriksen, C. & Prior, T. (2011) ‘The Art of Learning: Wildfire, Amenity Migration and Local Environmental Knowledge’, The International Journal of Wildland Fire, 20(4), pp.612-624
  • Eriksen, C., Gill, N. & Bradstock, R (2011) ‘Trial by Fire: Natural Hazards, Mixed-Methods and Cultural Research’, Australian Geographer, 42(1), pp.19-40
  • Eriksen, C. & Gill, N. (2010) ‘Bushfire and Everyday Life: Examining the Awareness – Action ‘Gap’ in Changing Rural Landscapes’, Geoforum, 41(5), pp.814-825
  • Eriksen, C., Gill, N. & Head, L. (2010) ‘The Gendered Dimensions of Bushfire in Changing Rural Landscapes in Australia’, Journal of Rural Studies, 26(4), pp.332-342
  • Eriksen, C. (2007) ‘Why do they burn the ‘bush’? Fire, rural livelihoods, and conservation in Zambia’, Geographical Journal, 173(3), pp.242-256

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Book Chapters
  • Eriksen, C. & Waitt, G. (2016) ‘Men, Masculinities and Wildfire: Embodied Resistance and Rupture.’ Chapter 6, pp.69-80 in Men, Masculinities and Disaster, Enarson and Pease (Eds) New York: Routledge
  • Eriksen, C. & Hankins, D. (2015) ‘Colonisation and Fire: Gendered Dimensions of Indigenous Fire Knowledge Retention and Revival’, Chapter 14, pp.129-137, in A. Coles, L. Gray & J. Momsen (Eds) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development, New York: Routledge
  • Prior, T & Eriksen, C. (2012) ‘What does being “well-prepared” for bushfire mean?’, Chapter 10 in Paton, D. & Tedim, F. (Eds) Wildfire and community: Facilitating preparedness and resilience. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas Publisher
  • Eriksen, C. & Adams, M. (2010) ‘Indigenous Environmental Knowledge’, in Warf, B. (Eds) Encyclopaedia of Geography, Sage Publications, pp.1564-1567
Other Academic Publications
  • Eriksen, C. (2016) Book Review: ‘Cultures and Disasters: Understanding Cultural Framings in Disaster Risk Reduction by F. Krüger et al.’, Geographical Research, 54(2), pp.226-227
  • Eriksen, C. (2015) ‘Wildfires in Australia’, Geography Review, 28(4), centrepiece pp.20-21 
  • Eriksen, C. (2014) ‘Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty’, Wildfire Magazine, 23(1), pp.14-18
  • Bradstock, R., Penman, T. Price, O., Penman, S., Gill, N., Eriksen, C., Dun, O., Brennan-Horley, C., & Wilkinson, C. (2014) ‘Life on the Edge – Living with Risk’, Fire Note, Issue 129, Aug. 2014, Melbourne: Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre 
  • Eriksen, C. (2013) ‘War Cry’, Current Conservation, 7(1), pp.36-37
  • Eriksen, C. & Hankins, D. (2013) ‘Gendered Dimensions of Aboriginal Australian and California Indian Fire Knowledge Retention and Revival’, Current Conservation, 7(1), pp.22-26
  • Eriksen, C. (2012) Book Review: ‘The Atlas of Women in the World’ by Joni Seager. New Zealand Geographer, 68, pp.143-144
  • Eriksen, C. (2012) Book Review: ‘Women in Leadership: Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries’ by Karin Klenke. Gender, Place and Culture, 19(3), pp.398-400
  • Eriksen, C. (2009) Opinion piece on ‘Learning from bushfires’, The Guardian Weekly, 27 February, p.23
Blog Posts

The Conversation: View the Author Achieve for a full list of published articles.

Conversations with AUSCCER: View the Author Archive for a full list of blog post on topics ranging from self-care in academia, gendered dimensions of firefighting, to reflections on known unknowns in disaster preparedness.

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Media Interviews since 2012

Research Grants

2015 – 2018 ‘Bushfires, Faith and Community Cohesion: Building a Resilient Australia’, Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) 

2014 ‘Flame and fortune: the production and consumption of wildfire vulnerability’, Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research Small Research Grant
With Dr Simon

2011 – 2014: ‘Co-existing with fire: managing risk and amenity at the rural- urban interface’, Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre national competitive grant
With Prof Bradstock and A/Prof Gill

2013: ‘The role and place of women in bushfire management and fire fighting in Australia’, University of Wollongong Small Research Grant

2013: ‘From the mountains to the sea: California-UOW teaching partnerships’, University of Wollongong UIC International Links Grant
With A/Prof Adams


Recent Subjects

GEOG 300 Directed Studies: Subject coordinator (2016)

ARTS 201 Regional Australia: Society and Environment (intensive field-based summer course), University of Wollongong (2008 – 2010)

Invited Contributions to Subjects

GEOG 222 Environmental Impact of Societies: ‘Marginalisation and unequal risk in disasters: building coping capacity’, University of Wollongong (2016)

INDS130 Introduction to Indigenous Studies: ‘Indigenous Fire Knowledge’, University of Wollongong (2015)

ENVI 923 Environmental Planning: ‘Wildfire hazards and risk engagement in environmental planning’, University of Wollongong (2012 – 2014)

GEOG 445 Pyrogeography: ‘Understand how communities mitigate for living in fire-prone regions’, California State University, Chico (2011, 2013)

EESC 308 Environment and Heritage Management: ‘Bushfire and the politics of blame’, University of Wollongong (2010)

I am interested in experiential, outdoor, and participatory learning strategies that engage students with social dimensions of disaster resilience, sustainable land management, and political ecology. I use applied geography to teach about issues that are topical across multiple time frames and geographical scales.

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Research Student Supervision


  • Shefali Juneja Lakhina (PhD, Human Geography) Engaging the Knowledge and Capacities of Refugees for a Disaster Resilient Illawarra, University of Wollongong (2016 – Present)
  • Rachel Reimer (MA, Leadership Studies) Gender and leadership in wildland fire: Women leaders on the fireline, Co-supervised with Dr Catherine Etmanski, Royal Roads University, Canada (2016 – Present)


  • Lucy Apps (Honours, Biology) Alternative Bushfire Management Strategies: Community Fire Units, Co-supervised with Dr Penman, University of Wollongong (2014 – 2015)
  • Carrie Wilkinson (Student Research Assistantship, Human Geography) The place and role of bushfire in Australian research over time, University of Wollongong (2012 – 2013)

Research Presentations since 2013

  • 10/2016 ‘Climate Change Q&A Panel’, public event for, Wollongong, NSW [Invited]
  • 05/2016 ‘Into the Firing Line: Civilian Ingress during the 2013 Red October Fires’, Australian Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference, Albury, NSW
    04/2016 ‘Men, Masculinities and Wildfire: Embodied Resilience and Rupture’, Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA
  • 04/2016 ‘Discussant: Researcher Trauma and Self-Care’, Association of American Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA
  • 11/2015 ‘Opening Plenary Panel: An Exploration of Gender Equality and Sexual Harassment Issues in the Wildland Fire Profession’, 6th International Fire Ecology & Management Congress, San Antonio, TX, USA [Invited]
  • 07/2015 ‘Wildfire Hazards’ panellist, 40th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop, Broomfield, CO, USA
  • 07/2015 ‘Affluence, Privilege and Vulnerability: Exploring the Connections in the Aftermath of the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm’, Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, Canberra, ACT
  • 04/2015 ‘Affluence, Privilege and Vulnerability: Exploring the Connections’ panellist, Association of American Geographers Conference, Chicago, IL
  • 04/2015 ‘Grieving Witnesses: The Politics of Grief in the Field’ panellist, Association of American Geographers Conference, Chicago, IL
  • 03/2015 ‘Between Three Fires: Bushfire, Gender and Social Change’, Thinking Space Seminar, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney [Invited]
  • 10/2014 ‘Mental Health, Vicarious Trauma, and Self Care for Disaster Researchers’, Red Cross Disaster Self Care Forum, University of Melbourne, VIC [Invited Panellist]
  • 08/2014 ‘Gender and Wildfire: Toeing the Line or Breaking the Glass Ceiling’, Women and Firefighting Australasia Biannual Conference, Canberra, ACT [Invited]
  • 07/2014 ‘Why Gender Matters in Emergency Management’, Emergency Management Conference, Melbourne, VIC [Two Invited Keynotes]
  • 05/2014 ‘Making Sure Collective Thought Occurs Around Planning’, Australian Community Engagement and Fire Awareness Conference 2014, Wollongong, NSW [Invited]
  • 04/2014 Author-meets-critics: ‘Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty’, Association of American Geographers Conference, Tampa, FL
  • 03/2014 ‘Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty at the Wildland-Urban Interface of Southeast Australia and the US West Coast’, American Society for Environmental History Conference, San Francisco, CA
  • 08/2013 ‘The Retention, Revival and Subjugation of Indigenous Fire Knowledge through Agency Firefighting’, International Geographical Union 2013 Regional Conference in Kyoto, Japan
  • 07/2013 ‘Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty’, Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA [Keynote]
  • 04/2013 ‘Gender and Wildfire at the Wildland-Urban Interface’, Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA
  • 03/2013 ‘Gender and Wildfire at the Wildland-Urban Interface’, Public Seminar, California State University, Chico [Invited]

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Professional Service and Memberships

  • 2001 – Present Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers
  • 2007 – Present Member of the Institute of Australian Geographers
  • 2015 – Present Committee Member for Association for Fire Ecology White Paper on ‘Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Wildland Fire Profession’
  • 2014 – Present Co-founder and Chair of the Hazards, Risks and Disasters Study Group, Institute of Australian Geographers
  • 2014 Panel Review for the Swedish Research Council FORMAS for forest fire research proposals
  • 2010 – Present Peer reviewer for refereed academic journals and book series: Journal of Rural Studies, Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Capitalism Nature Socialism, International Journal of Wildland Fire, Society and Natural Resources, Crossroads of Knowledge
  • 2011 – 2012 Steering Committee Member for ‘Weather the Storm: Women Prepare’, a project of the National Rural Women’s Coalition. The Weather the Storm kit – aimed at supporting women to prepare for disasters and emergencies - received a highly commended award at the Resilient Australia Awards in December 2013. The kit consists of three manuals, which can be downloaded for free online.
  • 2011 Institute of Australian Geographers National Conference Organising Committee
  • 2008 – 2009 Council Member, Geographical Society of New South Wales
  • 2007 – 2009 Member of the Geographical Society of New South Wales

Awards and Honours

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Last reviewed: 19 October, 2016


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