Chris Gibson

Chris Gibson

POSITION: Professor of Human Geography and
Executive Director, UOW Global Challenges Program
OFFICE: 41.249
PHONE: +61 2 4221 4261 (via Global Challenges)
TWITTER: @profcgibson

Visit Chris' UOW Scholars Page



BA (Hons), PhD (Sydney)

Previous Positions

  • 2000 - 2005: Senior Lecturer in Urban and Regional Geography, UNSW 

Research Interests and Expertise

  • Cultural economy: Opening up empirical and conceptual dialogue across the culture-economy divide is my central research agenda. Influences stem from my undergraduate and postgraduate training in both economic geography and literary/cultural studies. Most of my research focuses on the urban and regional scales, and currently I am especially energised by questions of urban and regional transformation amidst historical inheritances.
  • Critical research on creative industries: I am interested in how cultural production is embedded geographically, performed as work, and enabled technically, in networks of social and economic agents, in places and across physical distances. This includes the industrial and embodied politics of workplaces, and how emotional registers and subcultural dynamics shape regional creative industries such as music, fashion, craft, boot-making and surfboard-making (funded by various ARC Discovery and Linkage Grants since the early 2000s). This experience led to being contracted by UNESCO to contribute a substantive essay that became a central part of the 2013 United Nations Creative Economy Report.
  • Manufacturing futures: Increasingly I am writing about manufacturing cities and cultures, the fallacy of viewing creative and manufacturing industries as distinct, which is leading to new lines of research around material production, skill, rethinking regional 'redundancy' and making practices. This latter line of research involves growing collaborations with Andrew Warren, Chantel Carr and Thomas Birtchnell at UOW, and a new ARC Discovery Project, 'Urban cultural policy and the changing dynamics of cultural production', with Carl Grodach (QUT), Justin O’Connor (Monash), Xin Gu (Monash), and Andrew Warren.
  • Festivals and regional development: With John Connell (Sydney), Gordon Waitt (Wollongong), Jim Walmsley (UNE) and Andrew Gorman-Murray (UWS) I led Australia's largest investigation on the contributions of festivals to social and economic life in rural and regional communities (ARC Discovery Grant 2005-2009; The research involved the participation of over 400 festivals and spawned many books and articles spanning economic geography, history, rural sociology, cultural and gender studies. My collaboration with John Connell on this project continues and our new book, Outback Elvis, stemming from our work over a decade with the iconic Parkes Elvis Festival, was launched in January 2017, at the 25th anniversary of the event.
  • Cultural economic research on climate, crisis, and everyday household life: since 2008 I have increasingly sought to develop and apply the cultural-economic perspective beyond a specific focus on creative industries and regional development; conceptually, I bring a cultural-economy perspective to on-going collaborations with Lesley Head around the politics of climate change (assisted by my ARC Future Fellowship, 2010-2013); and with Lesley and many other colleagues in AUSCCER various empirical projects, mostly ethnographic, exploring everyday household practices and the dilemmas of sustainability (ARC Discovery Grant 2009-2013). Interwoven across these projects is a focus, gleaned from cultural-economy, on materials, things and practice, as well as conceptualisations of 'economy' beyond a narrow rationalist frame, and beyond the binary of production and consumption. 

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Recent Publications

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

Google Scholar profile >>

Authored and Edited Books

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Selected Recent Journal Papers
  • Kerr, S., Gibson, C. & Klocker, N. 2018, Parenting and neighbouring in the consolidating city: The emotional geographies of sound in apartments, Emotion, Space and Society
  • Warren, A. and Gibson. C. (2017) Subcultural enterprises, brand value, and limits to financialised growth: The rise and fall of corporate surfing brands. Geoforum, 86,177-187, DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.09.017
  • Gibson, C. and Warren, A. (2017) Creative industries, global restructuring, and new forms of subcultural capitalism: the experience of Australia's surf industry. Australian Geographer, online early DOI: 10.1080/00049182.2017.1385118
  • Gibson, C. and Warren, A. (2017) Unintentional path dependence: Australian guitar manufacturing, bunya pine and legacies of forestry decisions and resource stewardship. Australian Geographer, online early
  • Carr, C and Gibson, C (2017) Animating geographies of making: Embodied slow scholarship for participant‐researchers of maker cultures and material work. Geography Compass
  • Grodach, C, O’Connor, J and Gibson, C (2017) Manufacturing and cultural production: towards a progressive policy agenda for the cultural economy. City, Culture and Society.
  • Stanes, E and Gibson, C (2017) Materials that linger: An embodied geography of polyester fabrics. Geoforum 85, 27-36.
  • Gibson, C. and Warren, A. (2017) Unintentional path dependence: Australian guitar manufacturing, bunya pine and legacies of forestry decisions and resource stewardship. Australian Geographer, online early DOI: 10.1080/00049182.2017.1336967
  • Klocker, N. Mbenna, P. & Gibson, C. (2017) From troublesome materials to fluid technologies: making and playing with plastic-bag footballs, Cultural Geographies
  • Gibson, C & Klocker, N (2017), Editorial, Australian Geographer, 48(4), pp.425-426 
  • Gibson, C and Warren, A (2016) Resource-Sensitive Global Production Networks: reconfigured geographies of timber and acoustic guitar manufacturing. Economic Geography, online early
  • Gibson, C and Warren, A (2016) Resource-Sensitive Global Production Networks: reconfigured geographies of timber and acoustic guitar manufacturing. Economic Geography, online early DOI: 10.1080/00130095.2016.1178569
  • Gibson, C (2016) 'Material inheritances: how place, materiality and labor process underpin the path-dependent evolution of contemporary craft production’, Economic Geography. 92, 1, 61-86. DOI: 10.1080/00130095.2015.1092211
  • Gibson, C (2016) How clothing design and cultural industries refashioned frontier masculinities: a historical geography of Western wear, Gender, Place & Culture (online first): 10.1080/0966369X.2015.1058758
  • Head, L, Gibson, C, Gill, N, Carr, C and Waitt, G, (2016) A meta-ethnography to synthesise household cultural research for climate change response. Local Environment. 10.1080/13549839.2016.1139560
  • Stanes, E, Klocker, N and Gibson, C (2016) ‘Young adult households and environmental sustainability: beyond generalisations about generational cohorts’, Geoforum 65, 46-58
  • Gibson, C, Head, L and Carr, C (2015) ‘From incremental change to radical disjuncture: rethinking household sustainability practices as survival skills’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105, 2, 416-424. 10.1080/00045608.2014.973008
  • Gibson, C (2015) ‘Negotiating regional creative economies: academics as expert intermediaries advocating progressive alternatives’, Regional Studies, 49, 3, 476-479 10.1080/00343404.2014.945249
  • Carr, C and Gibson, C (2015) ‘Geographies of making: rethinking materials and skills for volatile futures’, Progress in Human Geography, DOI: 10.1177/0309132515578775
  • Gibson, C and Connell, J (2015) The role of festivals in drought-affected Australian communities. Event Management, 19, 4, 445-459.
  • Gill, N, Osman, P, Head, L, Moyer, M, Harada, T, Waitt, G and Gibson, C (2015) ‘Looking beyond installation: why households struggle to make the most of solar hot water systems’, Energy Policy, 87, 83-94.
  • Gibson, C (2014) ‘Souvenirs, materialities and animal encounters: following Texas cowboy boots’, Tourist Studies, 14, 3, 286–301.
  • Gibson, C and Warren, A (2014) ‘Making surfboards: emergence of a trans-Pacific cultural industry’, Journal of Pacific History, 49, 1, 1-25
  • Gibson, C (2013) ‘Welcome to Bogan-ville: reframing class and place through humour, Journal of Australian Studies, 37, 1, 62-75
  • Head, L, Farbotko, C, Gibson, C, Gill, N and Waitt, G (2013) ‘Zones of friction, zones of traction: the connected household in climate change and sustainability policy’, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 20, 4, 351-362
  • Warren, A and Gibson, C (2013) ‘Making things in a high-dollar Australia: the case of the surfboard industry’, Journal of Australian Political Economy, 71, 26-50
  • Gibson, C (2012) ‘Cultural Economy: Achievements, Divergences, Future Prospects’, Geographical Research, 50, 3, 282–290
  • Gibson, C, Carr, C and Warren, A (2012) ‘A country that makes things?’, Australian Geographer, 43, 2, 109-113.
  • Head, L and Gibson, C (2012) ‘Becoming differently modern: geographic contributions to a generative climate politics’, Progress in Human Geography, 36, 6, 699-714
  • Klocker, N, Gibson, C and Borger, E (2012) ‘Living together, but apart: Material geographies of everyday sustainability in extended family households’, Environment and Planning A, 44, 2240-2259 
  • Gibson, C, Head, L, Gill, N and Waitt, G (2011) ‘Climate change and household dynamics: beyond consumption, unbounding sustainability’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36, 1, 3-8   
  • Gibson, C (2010) ‘Geographies of tourism: (un)ethical encounters’, Progress in Human Geography, 34, 4, 521-527
  • Gibson, C, Waitt, G, Walmsley, J and Connell, J (2010) ‘Cultural festivals and economic development in regional Australia’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 29, 3, 280-293
  • Gibson, C (2009) ‘Geographies of tourism: critical research on capitalism and local livelihoods’, Progress in Human Geography, 33, 4, 527-534 

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Selected Recent Book Chapters
  • Warren, A. and Gibson, C. (2017) Soulful and Precarious: the Working Experiences of Surfboard Makers, in The Critical Surf Studies Reader, D.Z. Hough-Snee and A.S. Eastman (eds.). Duke University Press: Durham, pp. 342-364.
  • Gibson, C. and Warren, A. (2017) Surfboard Making and Environmental Sustainability, in Sustainable Surfing, G. Bourne and J. Ponting (eds). Routledge: New York, pp. 87-104.
  • Gibson, C, Carr, C and Warren, A (forthcoming) 'Making things: beyond the binary of manufacturing and creativity', in O'Connor, J and Oakley, K (eds) The Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries, Routledge, London
  • Gibson, C and Waitt, G (2012) ‘Urban cultural policy, city size and proximity’, in Silver, D and Grodach, C (eds) The Politics of Urban Cultural Policy, Routledge, New York, pp. 122-137
  • Gibson, C, Waitt, G, Head, L and Gill, N (2011) Is It Easy Being Green? On the Dilemmas of Material Cultures of Household Sustainability, in Lane, R and Gorman-Murray, A (eds) Material Geographies of Household Sustainability, Ashgate, Aldershot, 19-33
  • Gibson, C and Stanes, E (2010) ‘Is Green the New Black? Exploring ethical fashion consumption’, in Lewis, T and Potter, E (eds) Ethical Consumption: a Critical Introduction Routledge, London and New York, 169-185
  • Gibson, C, Brennan-Horley, C and Walmsley, J (2009) ‘Mapping vernacular creativity: the extent and diversity of rural festivals in Australia’ in Edensor, T, Leslie, D, Millington, S, and Rantisi, N (Eds) Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy, Routledge, London, pp. 89-105

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Selected Non-academic Publications

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Research Grants

2017-2019: Urban cultural policy and the changing dynamics of cultural production (ARC Discovery Grant DP170104255)
Find out more information on the project on the project website
With Dr Carl Grodach, Prof Chris Gibson, Prof Justin O’Connor, Dr Xin Gu

2010-2013: Crisis and change: cultural‑economic research on the adaptability and sustainability of Australian households (ARC Future Fellowship FT0991193)

2009 - 2011: Cultural sustainability in Australian country towns: amenity, mobility, and everyday life (ARC Discovery Grant DP0984223)
With Catherine Driscoll, Kate Bowles, Kate Darian-Smith, Chris Gibson, David Nichols, Gordon Waitt

2009 - 2012: Making less space for carbon: cultural research for climate change mitigation and adaptation (ARC Discovery Grant DP0986041)
With Gordon Waitt, Nick Gill, Lesley Head

2008 - 2012: Cultural Asset Mapping for Planning and Development in Regional Australia (ARC Linkage Grant LP0882238)
With Ross Gibson, Paul Ashton, Jim Walmsley

2006 - 2008: Creative Tropical City: Mapping Darwin’s Creative Industries (ARC Linkage Grant LP0667445)
With Tess Lea, Susan Luckman

2005 - 2009: Reinventing rural places? The extent and impact of festivals as regeneration strategies (ARC Discovery Grant DP0560032)
With John Connell, Gordon Waitt, Jim Walmsley

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Research Student Supervision


I am interested in supervising research students working on the following topics:

  • Aspects of material resource scarcity, salvage cultures, and related downstream making, manufacturing and repurposing of commodities
  • Ecological crisis and cultural economic geographies of resource-dependent industries
  • Trees and things: linking environmental humanities scholarship on the agency of plants with related cultural products industries
  • Cultural policy and urban manufacturing, with a focus on contestations of city futures and development regimes
  • Historical geographies of cultural products and craft-based industries, especially related to timber use
  • Elyse Stanes, PhD, Making space: Routines of consumption and its implications for the cultural economy of sustainability
  • Chantel Carr, PhD, The Make Economy: Contested Geographies of Design and Production
  • Justin Westgate, PhD, Responding to Crisis: creative practices in volatile spaces
  • Sophie-May Kerr (Klocker & Gibson); Sharing as a Sustainable Practice' (commenced 2015)
  • Nick Skilton, PhD, Privilege and Marginalisation in Australia’s National Imaginary: Constructions of Mining and Sex Worker Identities Through Technologies of Power, 2017
  • Ben Gallan, PhD, Becoming Crepuscular: rethinking the human relationship to day and night, 2014
  • Andrew Warren, PhD, Soulful work or selling the soul? Cultural production, precarious labour and the emotional terrain of the custom surfboard industry, 2012
  • Andrea Gordon, MSc, Community Music, Place and Belonging in the Bega Valley, NSW, Australia, 2012
  • Chris Brennan-Horley, PhD, Creative city mapping: experimental applications of GIS for cultural planning and auditing, 2011
  • Natascha Klocker, PhD, A participatory, action-oriented and youth-led investigation into child domestic work in Iringa, Tanzania, 2008
  • Rae Dufty-Jones, PhD, Rethinking the politics of distribution: the geographies and governmentalities of housing assistance in rural New South Wales, Australia, 2008
  • Karen McNamara, PhD, The politics of ‘environmental refugee’ protection at the United Nations, 2006

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Professional Services and Memberships

  • 2015 - present Editor, Australian Geographer
  • 2006 - present Political Geography (editorial board member)
  • 2011 - present Dialogues in Human Geography (inaugural editorial board member)
  • 2011 - present Tourist Studies (editorial advisory board member)
  • 2012 - present Australian Geographer (editorial board member)
  • 2014 - present Geographical Research (editorial board member)
  • 2014 - present Cultural Studies Review (editorial board member)
  • 2011 - 2016 Social & Cultural Geography (editorial board member) 
  • 2013 - 2015 Member of the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) Expert Working Group Securing Australia’s Future – Australia’s comparative advantage.
  • 2010 Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA): Discipline Chair, Human Geography and member of the Research Evaluation Committee (REC), ERA.
  • 2011 Chair, Academic Program, Institute of Australian Geographers Annual Conference.
  • 2001 -2007 Institute of Australian Geographers Cultural Geography Study Group, Convenor and Deputy Convenor.
  • 2001 - 2007 Geographical Society of NSW, Councillor and Secretary.

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Awards and Honours

  • 2015: Winner of the Australian Society for Sport History (ASSH) Book Award. Citation details:
  • 2015: Finalist Ka Palapala Po`okela Awards (Hawai`i Book of the Year, ‘Excellence in Nonfiction’ category) 
  • 2012 Fellowship of the Institute of Australian Geographers - for sustained contributions to the discipline of Geography.
  • 2010 - 2013 Inaugural ARC Future Fellowship 
  • 2003 UNSW Anthony Mason Fellowship   

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Last reviewed: 30 January, 2018


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