AUSCCER Pauline McGuirk

Pauline McGuirk

POSITION: Professor of Geography
OFFICE: 41.246
PHONE: +61 2 4221 3124
TWITTER: @PaulineMcGuirk 

Link to Pauline’s UOW Scholars Page 


I have joined the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong in 2016. Previous to this, I was Director of the Centre of Urban and Regional Studies and Head of Discipline, Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Newcastle, NSW, where I was appointed as Professor in 2007. As an urban geographer, I have worked with colleagues across economic, cultural and social geography as well as in sociology, planning, political science and international relations, and with practitioners and policy makers in state and local governments. I have been a visiting fellow at National University of Ireland (Maynooth), UBC (Vancouver), Trinity College (Dublin) and at the universities of Glasgow, Durham and Bristol. In 2016 I was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

Research interests and expertise

As an urban political geographer, my main interests are in the critical study of urban governance, its changing geographies, practices and politics, and the differential implications for urban places, communities and power. My research traces the mediation of urban space and politics by state and non-state governance processes and the ways governance opens out and constrains possibilities for just and sustainable urban communities. I understand sustainability—a much contested term—as ways of existing that allow for the ongoing reproduction of livelihoods, cultures, ecologies and environments , through just and inclusive means. My work sits at the boundaries of poststructural and political economy urban theorizing.

My overarching interest is in geographies of urban governance. Working alongside colleagues Robyn Dowling, Harriet Bulkeley, Phillip O’Neill and Kathy Mee, my work unpacks the emergence of new alliances, territories and practices of urban governance, and their attendant politics, over diverse domains (from private neighbourhoods, to human service provision, to carbon mitigation). This work foregrounds the socio-spatial processes and practices of urban governance, analysing the discourses, material practices, techniques and alliances through which governance is enacted across multiple scales and by an array of state and non-state actors. While revealing the centrality of neoliberal framings and practices in urban governance, my work resists universalised theories of neoliberalised urbanism and teases out its contingent constitution in relation to multiple other co-existing frameworks. 

Current projects

Urban regeneration
My work on urban regeneration began in the 1990s with a focus on Dublin’s regeneration through entrepreneurial regimes of governance. I have maintained this interest, particularly through a current project (with Kathy Mee and Kristian Ruming) exploring the diverse and divergent practices of urban regeneration unfolding in Newcastle, NSW. The project poses the deceptively simple question: how is Newcastle’s regeneration coming to be? Our impulse for the project is to produce both critical and generative insights into the diverse actants, material practices, discourses, motivations, and affects that are differentially being assembled and aligned in realizing the city’s regeneration. And from this, we aim to consider where are the opportunities (and what resources are productive) for purposely seeking to assemble more just, inclusionary forms of urban regeneration.

Cities and low carbons transitions
In two projects I have been exploring the role of cities as a critical arena in the politics of climate governance and as critical sites in low carbon transitions, especially around energy. In a project on urban carbon governance, with Robyn Dowling and Harriet Bulkeley, we have explored the governmental programs and practices emerging around low carbon urbanism in Australia and interrogated their emergent politics. In a new project (with Robyn Dowling) we position the city as a critical space in advancing energy transition. Using urban political ecology and elements of socio-technical transition theory, we are investigating the material means and social practices through which energy transition governance is playing out through urban spaces, with a particular focus on Sydney’s commercial office spaces.

Emergent geographies of smart urbanism
In new work, with Robyn Dowling, we aim to explore the governance processes and practices involved in making cities smart in Australia. We will analyse the promise and peril of ‘smart cities’ in Australia to think critically and generatively about how Australian cities can be made smart and equitable, and generate new theories on how ‘smart’ will change our cities and their governance.


Refereed Journal Articles

  • Baker T, McGuirk PM (2016) Assemblage thinking as methodology: Commitments and practices for critical policy research, Territory, Politics, Governance,DOI i0.1080/21622671.2016.1231631
  • McGuirk PM, Mee K, Ruming R, (2016) Assembling urban regeneration? Resourcing critical generative accounts of urban regeneration through assemblage thinking, Geography Compass  10, 3
  • McGuirk PM, Bulkeley H, Dowling R, (2015) Configuring carbon governance in the city: insights from Sydney, Australia, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 106, 145-166
  • McGuirk PM (2015) Geographical theorizing for a world of cities, Progress in Human Geography, DOI:10.1177/03091325603838
  • McGuirk PM, Dowling R, Brennan C, Bulkeley H  (2015) Urban carbon governance experiments: the role of Australian local governments, Geographical Research, 53, 39-52
  • McGuirk PM, O’Neill PM, Mee KJ, (2015)  Effective practices for interagency data sharing: insights from collaborative research in a regional intervention, Australian Journal of Public Administration, 74, 199-211
  • McGuirk PM, Dowling R and Bulkeley H, (2014) Repositioning urban governments? Energy efficiency and Australia’s changing climate and energy governance regimes, Urban Studies, 51, 2717-2734
  • McGuirk PM, Bulkeley H and Dowling R, (2014) Practices, programs and projects of urban carbon governance: perspectives from the Australian city, Geoforum, 52, 137–147
  • Dowling R, McGuirk PM and Bulkeley H, (2014) Retrofitting cities: local governance in Sydney, Australia, Cities, 38, 18–24Doney R,
  • McGuirk PM and Mee K, (2013) Social mix and the problematisation of social housing, Australian Geographer 44, 401–418
  • Boyle T and McGuirk PM, (2012) The decentred firm and the adoption of sustainable office space in Sydney, Australian Geographer, 43, 393–410 
  • McGuirk PM, (2012) Geographies of urban politics: pathways, intersections, intentions, Geographical Research, 50, 256–268
  • McGuirk PM and O’Neill P, (2012) Critical geographies with the state: the problem of social vulnerability and the politics of engaged research, Antipode, 44, 1374–1394

Pauline’s full publication and citation list

Book Chapters 

  • Dowling R, McGuirk PM, Brennan C, Bulkeley H (2016) Devising low-carbon desires in the Australian urban economy in H Bulkeley, M Patterson, J Stripple (eds) Towards a Cultural Politics of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 37-51.
  • Ruming K, Mee K, McGuirk PM (2016) Planned derailment for new urban futures? An actant network analysis of the “great [light] rail debate” in Newcastle, Australia in Y Rydin and L Tate (eds) Exploring the Potential of Actant Network Theory, Routledge/Taylor & Francis, London, 44-62
  • Dowling R, McGuirk PM and Bulkeley H (2016) Demonstrating retrofitting: perspectives from Australian local government, in M Hodson and S Marvin (eds) Retrofitting Cities: Priorities, Governance and Experimentation, Taylor & Francis, London, 212-232.
  • Dowling R and McGuirk PM (2016) Cities of Australia and the Pacific Islands, in S Brunn, M Hays Mitchell, and D Ziegler (eds) Cities of the World (6th Ed) Rowman and Littlefield, Landham MD (Revised and updated)
  • McGuirk PM, O'Neill P (2016) Using questionnaires in qualitative human geography, Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography (4th Edn), Oxford University Press, Ontario, Canada, 246-74 (Revised and updated)
  • Askew L, Sherval M, McGuirk PM (2014) ‘It’s not just drought’: Drought, rural change and more: perspectives from rural farming communities, in R Dufty-Jones R and J Connell (eds) Rural Change in Australia, Ashgate , 235-253
  • O’Neill PM and McGuirk PM (2014) ‘Qualitative methods in socio-spatial research’ in Stimson R (ed) Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Spatially Integrated Social Science, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 177-192
  • Murphy L and McGuirk PM (2013) Super-rich Irish property developers: their part in the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy, in Hay I (ed) Geographies of the Super-Rich, Edward Elgar, 77-93
  • Dowling R and McGuirk PM,  (2012) Cities of Australia and the Pacific Islands, in S Brunn, M Hays Mitchell, and D Ziegler (eds) Cities of the World (5th Edn) Rowman and Littlefield, Landham MD, 523-557 (Revised and updated)

Pauline’s full publication and citation list

Other (including practitioner and policy reports)

  • Baker T, Smith M, Roy A, McCann E, McGuirk PM, Mountz A, Peck J, Theodore N (2015)  Reading Jamie Peck and Nick Theodore’s Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism, Review Forum, Political Geography, DOI10.1016/j.polgeo.2015.11.001
  • Sherval M, Askew LE, McGuirk PM (2014) Manifestations of drought, In Michalos AC (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, Springer, Dordrecht, 3756-3761
  • Sherval M, Askew LE, McGuirk PM (2014) Human cost of drought, In Michalos AC(Ed.) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research, Springer, Dordrecht,  3005-3011

Pauline’s full publication and citation list

Refereed Conference Papers 

  • Dowling R, McGuirk PM and Bulkeley H (2013) Governing carbon in the Australian city: local government responses, Proceedings of the State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney, available here (via

Pauline’s full publication and citation list

Research grants

2017-2019: Making cities smart: emergent geographies of smart urbanism (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Robyn Dowling

2015- 2017: Governing urban energy transitions: reconfiguring spaces, sites, subjects (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Robyn Dowling

2011–2013: Regenerating cities: the practice, politics and performance of urban transition (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Kristian Ruming, Kathy Mee

2011–2013: Governing carbon: Australia’s cities and carbon control (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Robyn Dowling, Harriet Bulkeley

2007–2008: Privatising neighbourhoods (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Robyn Dowling, Rowland Atkinson

2005–2006: Sydney’s role as a global city (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant)
With Phillip O’Neill, Frank Stilwell, Dick Bryan

2007–2010: (NSW Dept of Premier & Cabinet) Enabling inter-agency data sharing to support spatial analysis of social vulnerability (Australian Research Council Linkage Grant)
with Phillip O’Neill, Kathy Mee, Robert King, Lesley Instone

2003–2007: (NSW Dept of Premier & Cabinet) Building technologies & engagement processes for using spatialised data
With Phillip O’Neill, Kathy Mee, Robert King

2002–2006: (NSW Dept of Housing) Effective public housing management (Australian Research Council Linkage Grant)
With Phillip O’Neill, Kathy Mee

2009–2010: Drought and the future of small inland towns (National Climate Change Research Facility)
With Anthony Kiem, Meg Sherval, Garry Willgoose, Helen Berry, Danielle Verdon-Kidd, Louise Askew

2007–2008: Indicators for intervention on the Central Coast (NSW Premiers Department)
With Kathy Mee

2005: Urban Research Development Project (McCloy Group*)
With Phillip O’Neill, Kathy Mee, Sarah Wright, Kevin Markwell, Salim Momtaz

* The McCloy Group is a development company that donated $1m in research funding to The University of Newcastle in 2005 to fund c.10 projects. Funding was allocated competitively across the University. 

2005: Trialling procedures and protocols for integrating data  (NSW Premiers Department)
With Phillip O’Neill, Kathy Mee

Research Student Supervision

Future Students

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

  • Critical geographies of urban governance
  • Geographies of smart urbanism (including sharing cities)
  • Practices and politics of urban regeneration

Professional service and memberships

  • Co-editor Progress in Human Geography (2015—)
  • International Editorial Boards of:
    •   Geographical Research
    •   Irish Geography
    •   Geography Compass
    •   Territory Politics Governance
  • Associate Editor Australian Geographer (1997–2008)
  • President, Geographical Society of New South Wales (2002–2005)
  • Vice-President, Geographical Society of New South Wales (1999–2002, 2005–2008)
  • Council member, Geographical Society of New South Wales (1997–1999)

Awards and Honours

  • 2016  Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (elected)
  • 2009  Fellowship of the Institute of Australian Geographers (elected)
  • 2008  Vice-chancellor's Award for Excellence in Supervision (Fac. of Science and IT, UON)
  • 2008  Fellowship of the Geographical Society of NSW (awarded)
  • 2005  Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (UoN, Faculty of Science & IT, UON)
  • 2000  The Australian Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing, Single Title (Wholly Australian) for Waitt G, McGuirk PM, Dunn KM, Hartig KV and Burnley I, (2000) Introducing Human Geography: Globalisation, Difference, Inequality, Pearson. pp 560 
Last reviewed: 22 November, 2017


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