Throughout 2017 the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities will be offering seminars canvasing a variety of topics that are relevant to current discussions and research.  These seminars usually take place on a Wednesdays at 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm, room location is next to each Seminar date. Please see below for more information about dates, speakers and topics for 2017.   

Wednesday 29th November 2017 - Early Start Building 21.G08

A/Professor Tracey Skelton
National University of Singapore

Title: Hydrating Hyderabad: Rapid urbanisation, water scarcity and the difficulties and possibilities of human flourishing


The city of Hyderabad has played a significant role in urban transition processes at play in India. Cyberabad, a particular section of the city of Hyderabad, developed through the rapid urbanisation of rural villages and land, became a hi-tech, state of the art, globally connected enclave. On weekday mornings in the district of Madhapur smartly dressed HITEC City workers, with ID tags, emerge from hostel-accommodation and walk alongside large, black buffalo being herded into rundown dairies. This paradoxical use of space is replicated in the urban fabric of Cyberabad and surrounding Madhapur. Cheek-by-jowl urbanisation has created two very different types of urban locale: HITEC City – air-conditioned, gardened, watered – a space of hydration and flourishing; and Madhapur – hot, dusty and desiccated – a space of dryness and water struggles. This paper explores which aspects of urban flourishing and resilience are possible in the newly formed Telangana state and its capital, Hyderabad through an examination of the past, present and future of the city’s water.


Tracey Skelton is Associate Professor in Human Geography at NUS and a Visiting Professor at the University of Loughborough. She has conducted research in the UK, the Caribbean and latterly in the Asia-Pacific. Her work centres on social identities related to social, political and cultural in/justice. She was the principle investigator for a Global Asia Institute funded project on Asian Cities: Liveability, Sustainability, Diversity and Spaces of Encounter, a collaborative project focusing on the cities of Busan (South Korea); Hyderabad (India); Kunming (China) and Singapore. She has recently completed an Australian Research Council funded project on Cosmopolitan Development: the role of international development volunteering (with Professor Susanne Schech) and is currently conducting research for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada project, National Futures or Emerging Crises? Youth labour market integration, policies and practices (with Professor Kiran Mirchandani). She has published over 100 articles and chapters, co-edited 13 books and three journal special issues. She is internationally renowned for her foundational work in Geographies of Children and Young People and is the Editor-in-Chief for a Springer Major Reference Work, Geographies of Children and Young People, which comprises 12 volumes.

1PM Tuesday 5th December 2017 - Early Start Building 21.G04

Associate Professor Jason W. Moore
Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University

Title: Capitalocene Geographies, or, Why the Geographical Imagination Needs World History


Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian and historical geographer at Binghamton University, where he is associate professor of sociology. He is author or editor, most recently, of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015), Capitalocene o Antropocene? (Ombre Corte, 2017), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press, 2016), and, with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (University of California Press, 2017). His books and essays on environmental history, capitalism, and social theory have been widely recognized, including the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History (2003), the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Section on the Political Economy of the World-System (American Sociological Association, 2002 for articles, and 2015 for Web of Life), and the Byres and Bernstein Prize in Agrarian Change (2011). He is chair (2017-18) of the Political Economy of the World-System Section (ASA), and coordinates the World-Ecology Research Network.



Jamie Peck
The University of British Columbia

Offshore outsourcing—the movement of jobs to lower-wage countries—has been one of the defining features of globalization, ever since the identification of the “new international division of labor” in the 1970s. Routine blue-collar work has been going “offshore” ever since that time, a flipside of deindustrialization in the so-called rustbelt regions, but the digital revolution starting in the 1990s, coupled with ongoing liberalization, extended this process to many parts of the service economy too. Politically controversial since the beginning, “offshoring” is conventionally seen as a threat to jobs, wages, and economic security in higher-income countries, having become synonymous with races to the bottom and the dirty work of globalization. Even though the majority of corporations make use of the practice, fearful of negative publicity most now manage these activities in a discreet manner. Partly as a result, the global sourcing business largely operates under the radar, its ocean-spanning activities in low-cost labor arbitrage, organizational innovation, and corporate partnering remaining in a private world.

Drawing on his latest book, Offshore, Jamie Peck reflects on the first sustained exploration of the workings of the global sourcing industry, its business practices, its market dynamics, its technologies, its cultural politics, and not least, its constantly shifting economic geographies.

Jamie Peck is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy, Distinguished University Scholar, and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia, Canada. With long-term research interests in urban restructuring, geographical political economy, labor studies, the politics of policy formation and mobility, and economic geography, his current research is focused on the financial restructuring of U.S. cities, the politics of contingent labor, and the political economy of neoliberalization. Recent books include Offshore: Exploring the worlds of global outsourcing (2017, Oxford); Fast Policy: Experimental statecraft at the thresholds of neoliberalism (2015, Minnesota, with Nik Theodore); Constructions of Neoliberal Reason (2010, Oxford); and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Economic Geography (2012, Wiley, coedited with Trevor Barnes & Eric Sheppard). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and previously the holder of Guggenheim and Harkness fellowships, Peck is the Editor-in-Chief of the Environment and Planning series of journals.


David Schlosberg
University of Sydney

Title: Sustainable Materialism: New Environmentalisms and Everyday Life

This paper examines new environmental movements focused on what I call a sustainable materialism. Many food and energy movements, for example, are based in a conception of sustainability that acknowledges human immersion in nonhuman natural systems, and include an interest in changing the material relationship between humans, other beings, and the nonhuman realm. Interviews illustrate that movement participants reflect on the realization, similar to Bennett, that the matter of the nonhuman realm has some sort of agency, both in itself and on us; human material practice around things like food, energy, and clothing is increasingly understood as networked with complex and dynamic agentic systems. Bennett has offered an ontology about the vitality of the nonhuman – one that encourages us to enhance our own receptivity. For Meyer, a politics of new materialism should “begin by engaging materiality as it is already manifest in practice.” The argument of this paper is that we already see movements engaging with such practice. The focus is on the very flow of food, matter, energy from the natural world, through our productive processes, into and through our bodies, and back into the nonhuman realm. New institutions and systems are being built in ways that direct the material flows of everyday life in vitalizing, resilient, and sustainable ways, with specific attention to the relationship between the provision of human needs and the environment in which those needs are met.

David Schlosberg is Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. He is known internationally for his work in environmental politics, environmental movements, and political theory - in particular the intersection of the three with his work on environmental justice. David’s current applied work includes both adaptation and resilience planning and food security policy with the City of Sydney, and the impacts of climate change as part of the University of Sydney’s Research Hub on Health and Social Impacts of Climate Change for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. His more theoretical work focuses on environmental movements and everyday life, as well as the relationship between the idea of the Anthropocene and the reality of environmental injustice.


Juan Francisco Salazar
Western Sydney University

Title: Microbial geographies at the extremes of life: bioprospecting in Antarctica

In this presentation, I explore world-making processes through which extreme frontiers of life are made habitable. Examining how notions of life are enlarged, incorporated, and appropriated in complex geopolitical contexts, it argues that microbial worlds are becoming part of worlding processes and projects that further these frontiers. The emphasis on “microbial ontologies” is designed to draw attention to the increasing expediency of conceptualizing extreme earthly ecologies as analogs for other planetary worlds, as a way of tracing the relational trajectories of Antarctica and outer space, and to reflect on emerging modes of an extraterrestrial mode of thinking Earth. This article is informed by short-term ethnographic fieldwork in the Antarctic Peninsula with Chilean microbiologists engaged in the bioprospecting of extremophiles, to account for how extremophile organisms are made part of a market-driven search for bioactive components in areas highly sensitive to geopolitics at the same time as they become meaningful as proxies for extraterrestrial life. The presentation combines analysis, description, fieldwork material, and a documentary film project, to trace the relational trajectories of Antarctica and outer space in very general terms and discuss the intricacies of bioprospecting in Antarctica, where the question of who owns the microbial diversity existing outside of national territories remains ambiguous and contested.

Juan Francisco Salazar is an anthropologist and filmmaker with interests in critical Indigenous media studies, environmental humanities, documentary film and cultural research in Antarctica and Antarctic gateway cities. He is Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and Research Director at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. His last film is the feature length experimental documentary Nightfall on Gaia (2015) and his latest book is the co-edited volume Anthropology and futures: researching emerging and uncertain worlds (Bloomsbury, 2017).


Karma Eddison-Cogan
University of Sydney

Title: "Talk to your neighbour, live a little more”: Community and Renewal at the Garage Sale

We are, as the ABC series tells us, experiencing a “War on Waste”. Aligning with this thought, the annual Australia-wide event The Garage Sale Trail, which encourages neighbourhood garage sales, is promoted as an opportunity to reduce landfill and to generate a consciousness about waste. Importantly, the event also grounds creative reuse and recycling in terms of collective and collaborative community involvement. The event and surrounding discourses foreground the concept of renewal in terms of giving “new life” to second-hand things. In the same way, renewal and regeneration are also promised for communities. The event emphasises the community connections, neighbourly bonds, and revival of individual and community life that can arise from participation.

Drawing from ethnographic work with participants of the event, this paper will discuss what The Garage Sale Trail can offer in terms of thinking about community in Sydney. It will explore the particular ways in which the concept is invoked in the context of creative reuse and recycling practices at a local level. This paper also aims to turn a critical lens to the transformative potential of both reviving objects and reviving communities in Sydney, as well as to those things and communities that fall outside of its scope.

Karma Eddision-Cogan is a PhD Candidate in the department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She is a former Urban Planner and holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Sydney. Her PhD research is focused on creative renewal, reuse, and recycling practices in Sydney. It is concerned with the ways that waste is framed by popular discourse, local government policies, as well as cultural practices as something that can undergo creative transformation. Through ethnographic research, her research aims to develop a picture of common attitudes towards rethinking waste, attitudes and experiences of community, and the embeddedness of concepts of waste within our broader social, cultural, and political contexts. The working title of her thesis is “Creative Renewal: Mobilities and Memories of Waste”.


Sandie Suchet-Pearson
Macquarie University

Title: Yolŋu women’s keening of songspirals: centring Indigenous understandings to nourish and share people-as-place

Sandie Suchet-Pearson as part of Bawaka Country including Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr Stubbs, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru, Sarah Wright and Kate Lloyd.

This paper draws on my Indigenous-non-Indigenous more-than-human collaboration with Yolngu researchers and human geographers as Bawaka Country to nourish and, where appropriate, share Indigenous and Country-led understandings of knowledges, identities and places. After discussing our more-than human collective and the way we have worked collaboratively together for over 10 years, the paper focuses on our current work around women’s keening of songspirals. Songspirals bring Country into existence. In Aboriginal English usage, Country is much more than ‘the environment’. Country encompasses the seas, waters, rocks, animals, winds and all the beings that exist in and make up a place, including people. Songspirals (commonly known as songlines) are rich and multi-layered articulations, passed down through the generations and sung by Aboriginal people to wake Country, to make and remake the life-giving connections between people and place – people co-becoming as place (Bawaka Country et al 2016, Rose 1996, 2007). Our spiral-based framework extends ideas of songlines to generate new knowledge which centres Yolŋu women’s conceptions of place and time. In a time of disruptive environmental change, such deep place-based engagements, that are not only Indigenous-led, but are led by Country, are crucially necessary.

Sandie is an associate professor in Human Geography in the Department of Geography and Planning at Macquarie University. Her research and teaching experiences over the last 20 years have been in the area of Indigenous rights and environmental management. Her current work focuses on Indigenous self-determination in the context of cultural tourism in North East Arnhem Land, northern Australia. In this work Sandie is part of the Bawaka Collective. This more-than-human collective has worked together as a research collective since 2006 and has written 2 books and numerous academic and popular articles together. They are currently working on their third book about women keening the Songspirals - Milkarri.

Wednesday 11th October - Early Start Building 21.G04

Professor Bradon Ellem
University of Sydney Business School

Title: The Making of Global Production Networks: Southeast Asia’s LNG Industry

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry is shaped by global production networks characterised in Southeast Asia by state ownership and elsewhere by transnational lead firms. Its networks are marked in profoundly geographical ways because of the tensions between the territoriality and materiality of gas as a natural resource on one hand and the mobility of capital and labour on the other. The expansion of the LNG industry as an export industry across Southeast Asia is itself a spatial change of considerable importance, one in which states play a central role. The peculiarities of LNG production’s spatiality are mapped out here and the importance of the state and national scale restated in both conceptual terms, as an essential part of global production network theory, and empirical terms, amid the industry’s shifting geography.

Bradon Ellem is a Professor of Employment Relations in the University of Sydney Business School. His research has examined industrial relations in the resources sector, government industrial relations policy and union strategy. His work has been published in leading international and local academic journals as well as in commissioned reports, trade journals and submissions. He is now completing an ARC-funded project with colleagues at the University of Western Australia examining engineering service work in Australian mining and commencing a study of production networks and industrial relations in the offshore gas industry across SE Asia. His history of industrial relations in the iron ore industry, The Pilbara: From the Deserts Profits Come, which is the result of more than a decade’s research, was published in July 2017 by UWA Publishing.


Affrica Taylor
University of Canberra

Title: Unsettling child-rabbit encounters: Staying with the trouble of invasive colonial legacies

In this presentation I describe a series of unsettling child-rabbit encounters that are taken from a multispecies ethnographic research project I am undertaking with a group of pre-school children, called ‘Walking with Wildlife in Wild Weather Times’. The encounters take place during walks in a heritage-listed grassy woodlands area on the ANU campus, and at ‘The Rabbits’ exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Situating these encounters within the ecological legacies of settler colonialism, I discuss some of the complex ways in which the children are both troubled by and continue to grapple with their encounters with ‘invasive’ rabbits. Drawing upon the relational philosophies of Donna Haraway (2016) and Deborah Bird Rose (2004), I also reflect upon on how the children’s grapplings might offer us a glimpse into the possibility for a recuperative and decolonising ethics of multispecies cohabitation on damaged lands.

Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene, Durham London: Duke University Press.

Rose, D. B. (2004) Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation, Sydney: UNSW Press.

Affrica Taylor is a cultural geographer in Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics at the University of Canberra and a founding member of the Common Worlds Research Collective. She brings feminist, queer and decolonising environmental humanities perspectives into play with her more-than-human geographies of childhood and her multispecies ethnographic research. She is currently involved in a research project ‘Walking with Wildlife in Wild Weather Times’ with young children at the ANU. Her books include: Reconceptualising the Natures of Childhood; Unsettling the Colonial Places and Spaces of Early Childhood Education; and Children and Animals: A Common World Ethics for Entangled Lives (forthcoming). 


Associate Professor David Bissell
The University of Melbourne

Title: Work mobilities for challenging times

In an era of intensified urbanisation, where more people are living and working in cities than ever before, the question of how our everyday mobilities are transforming the fabric of social life is a critical issue for our times. In this seminar, I will discuss some of my recent research on urban commuting in Australia to show how the mobilities paradigm can provide geographers with new understandings of power in a world increasingly characterised by complex patterns of mobility and stillness. Drawing on fieldwork encounters with three long distance commuters whose daily lives extent over vast distances, I will draw attention to the diverse circumstances through which mobile lives can emerge, and I will discuss the political, ethical and practical questions that mobile lives provoke. I will explain how mobility is the missing link in a set of debates currently taking place in Australia where job creation and housing affordability are currently centre-stage.

David Bissell is Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. His current research draws on cultural geography and theories of mobility to investigate contemporary social problems involving mobility-labour relationships. His current research projects are about how long distance mobile working practices are reshaping the home; and how new mobile technologies are transforming urban life. He is co-editor of Stillness in a Mobile World (2011) and The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities (2014). His monograph, Transit Lives: How Commuting is Transforming Our Cities, will be published by MIT Press in early 2018.

Last reviewed: 31 October, 2017