GeoPlan@Macquarie #IAG2017: July11-14 Brisbane

IMG_0849GeoPlan@MQ is on the move for the Institute of Australian Geographers Conference – this year we are enjoying beautiful Brisbane and the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland. Researchers from our department are participating in exciting sessions on diverse themes: Indigenous geographies, spaces of activism, sustainability, critical development studies, migration, more-than-human research praxis, interstitial landscapes and more!

We are especially proud that Professor Richie Howitt is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Institute of Australian Geographers Australia-International Medal.  This award recognises Richie’s international standing and his tireless commitment to teaching, service to the discipline, and community engagement.  Congratulations Richie!

Here is a quick look at what GeoPlan@MQ researchers are up to this week at the IAG. Please consult the IAG conference agenda for the final word on session details:

 Learning to Listen? Reflecting on wisdom, responsibility, coexistence as foundations for sustainable coexistence in pluralist societies

Richie Howitt

Session: Wednesday July 12, 10:40am-12:10pm; Sir Llew Edwards 14-32


In these troubled times, the wisdom of fostering pluralism is increasingly challenged by discourses of privilege, fear and violence. Inevitably, making geography count in nurturing generous and sustained coexistence in already-pluralist societies is made difficult by such circumstances. Ceremonial recognition of coexistence is often acknowledged by the dominant society through a brief, formal ‘Welcome to Country’ by Indigenous traditional owners. This is widely incorporated into government, educational and other meetings, but who has learned to really listen and respond? The welcome ceremony offers an opportunity to reconsider the foundations of sustainable coexistence in pluralist settings. This paper advocates listening methodologies as important in how dominant cultures respond to their dominance in pluralist societies. It particularly argues that the recipients of a welcome need to better understand what is involved in taking responsibility for being welcomed. Extending earlier work on Levinasian ethics, I argue that it includes taking responsibility to address the current legacies of past injustices and to bring all people in pluralist societies into relationships of shared and mutual recognition.


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

Bawaka Country including Suchet-Pearson, S, Wright, S, Lloyd, K, Burarrawanga, L, Ganambarr, R, Ganambarr-Stubbs, M, Ganambarr, B and Maymuru, D.

Session: Researching With Indigenous Peoples 3: The Politics of Translation
Jul 12, 2017 3:40 PM – 5:10 PM


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). This paper draws on our close collaborative relationship with Yolŋu co-researchers as Bawaka Country to nourish and, where appropriate, share Indigenous and Country-led understandings of women’s keening of songspirals. 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, supporting such deep place-based engagements, that are not only Indigenous-led, but are led by Country, are crucially necessary.

Sandie is also speaking on the panel: More-than-human research praxis IAG panel discussion Thursday 13, 1:40-3:10

Sustainability, Hope and Disappointment: Embracing Reflective and Unreflective Transformation

Greg Walkerden

Session: Wednesday, July 12, 3:40-5:10pm; Steele 03-228


Sustainable development, as an aspiration, embraced a tension: embracing welcome change, while conserving precious stabilities in socio-ecological dynamics. In local arenas, over modest timeframes, and on specific measures, and occasionally at larger scales, for longer periods, and on wider issue sets, something akin to sustainability has been achieved. For the most part, though, if one cares about large places over the long term, longings for sustainability invite grief. Socio-ecological systems analysis and environmental history demonstrate the challenges: exponential growth in either population or per capita consumption, in many locations, speaks to our de facto commitments. Lessons from action research, in projects in regional NSW and Queensland, show how provisional pursuit of sustainability is, at finer resolutions. Political instabilities loom large. Interdependence and vulnerability are a modus vivendi. What then can we do as geographers? One way to respond is to focus on developing adaptive capacity in the communities of emerging professionals we teach, and the professional networks we engage through action research. Fostering reflective practice, creative thinking, triangulating technically, politically and managerially, and embedding innovations through capacity building processes, show ways transformation – both thrust upon us and and arising from new forms of hope – can be embraced.

Towards Just Resilience: Anticipating the Risks of Climate-Related 

Forced resettlement in response to climate change
Fiona Miller

Session: Wednesday 12 Jul, 10:40 – 12:10 in Chamberlain 35-102


Forced resettlement in response to climate change raises critical questions of justice at multiple scales. Unlike migration, which tends to reflect people’s agency in response to changing environmental and economic risks and opportunities, resettlement is often imposed by the state. Although often premised on the assumption that it will reduce vulnerability to climate change, resettlement can create new environmental, social and economic challenges for people. This paper seeks to contribute to a rethinking of the concepts of justice and resilience in relation to climate-related resettlement, with a particular focus on the ‘climate hotspot’ of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The concept of just resilience is proposed as a lens through which the consequences of resettlement for people’s connections to place, each other and familiar ways of life can be understood. Through attention on the procedures underpinning decision making on resettlement, the distribution of outcomes, and recognition of diverse knowledge the concept of just resilience can potentially support communities and governments to better anticipate and resolve some of the humanitarian, livelihood and ecological challenges associated with resettlement.

Who’s(e) the Indigenous Community: Methodological Pitfalls in the Indigenous Research Space

Corrine Franklin

Session: Jul 12, 10:40am-12:10pm,


Research in Indigenous spaces, and with Indigenous communities, continues to grow and expand in Australia. Yet an area that remains significantly under-examined is what constitutes an Indigenous community. This presentation will draw on the findings of two Indigenous focused research projects as I explore the notion of the ‘Indigenous community’ and pose the question – who has the right to speak with them?

Spatializing climate justice: the practice and possibility of climate activism in the Asia Pacific

Sara Fuller

Session: Jul 12; 3:40-5:10pm; Chamberlain 35-103


Climate justice activism emerges in multiple spaces, with individuals and groups pursuing strategies ranging from traditional organised activities to more diverse and spontaneous forms of ‘everyday’ activism. Much of this action has sought to articulate the connections between climate change and human rights, while also drawing attention to questions of rights and responsibilities. Beyond issue-based campaigns, however, there is a need to understand the contested sites and spaces of climate activism and the implications for justice. This paper draws on empirical research with activist and advocacy organisations in Hong Kong and Singapore – cities which offer unique political and institutional environments for mobilisation around climate justice. The paper reflects on the inherent contradictions associated with climate justice activism in these cities, and how questions of rights and responsibilities are considered. The paper argues that while the power of ‘everyday’ action and activism should not be overlooked, such explorations should be framed by a more nuanced understanding of how space and place come to matter in not only enabling urban climate activism but also in capturing dynamics of justice, care and responsibility in the city.

‘Can We Love Our Monsters? Digital Justice in the Anthropocene’ in the session Encountering Feminist Geographies 

Jessica McLean

Session: Thursday, July 13, 3:40 PM – 5:10 PM; Steele 03-228,


Our use of digital media has ecological implications both in terms of our physical reliance on infrastructure and tools to connect to digital spaces, and what we do within digital spaces. However, the contribution of digital spaces to the Anthropocene is not yet well-explored and digital activism in particular may play a role in working towards more just futures. In bringing together geographies of digital change and the Anthropocene, this paper focuses on interventions originating in digital spaces and networking through, around and beyond these. This paper will consider issues of justice and the Anthropocene within the context of change originating from digital spaces. By exploring a case study of online digital action as manifest in the Climate Council’s creation and continuation, important aspects of what is made possible from within digital spaces will be highlighted.

Assembling Plant Based Food in Sydney: Prefigurative Politics, Collaborative Experiments

Donna Houston, Andrew McGregor, Tasmin-Lara Dilworth

Session: Thursday July 13; 10:40-12:10pm; Chamberlain 35-103


This paper explores how plant-based food cultures are being assembled in metropolitan Sydney.  The interest in plant-based food has grown considerably in recent years with urban agriculture, farmers markets, food social movements, and ethical consumption practices changing how and what people eat, and creating new knowledge and skills in urban foodscapes.  Drawing on an ongoing research project investigating environmental and ethical food production and consumption in Sydney, the paper focuses on how plant-based food cultures are being assembled.  We focus on three elements: (1) relational foodscapes – how different actors (growers, makers, local governments and businesses) are putting together new spaces for plant-based food in the city; (2) prefigurative politics – how does shifts towards plant-based food prefigure worlds that people want to live in as an ethical response environmental and social change? (3) apprehensions – what are some of the pitfalls and problems in making just transitions towards plant-based food (for example, bodily and spatial gentrification, food justice)?

Geography and Planning scholars are also involved in the following sessions:

Roles, Responsibilities and Emotions – Negotiating the Politics of Forced Social Housing Relocations in Sydney

Marilu Melo and Kristian Ruming

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Session: The Financialisation Of Housing And Australian Cities 2; Room: Sir Llew Edwards 14-116, 2:00 PM – 2:20 PM

Situating Resident Attachments to Home in Objection to Higher Density Housing

Nicole Cook and Kristian Ruming

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Session: Who Counts In The City? Interrogating Urban Power, Presence, And Representation 2; Room: Chamberlain 35-519, 2:00 PM – 2:20 PM

Assembling ‘The News’: Urban Politics, Urban Regeneration and the Media

Jill Sweeney, Jenelle Monahan, Kathy Mee, Pauline McGuirk, and Kristian Ruming

Contact Zones, Coexistence and Encounters: Urban Regeneration and Indigenous Presence and Absence in Newcastle

Kathleen Mee, Faith Curtis, Pauline McGuirk, Kristian Ruming and Jill Sweeney

Thursday, July 13, 2017; Session: New Directions In Cultural Geography 2: Assembling Room: Steele 03-229, 4:00 PM – 4:20 PM

Bread and Circuses

Wendy Steele, Jean Hillier, Diana MaCallum, Jason Byrne, Donna Houston

Wednesday July 12: 3:40-5:10pm; Session Resist, Refuse Re-Common, Critical and Creative Geographies of Activism 1 

Failure-Tolerant Adaptation?: Enabling Social Innovation for Climate Change Response via Local Government Initiatives

Jason Byrne, Jean Hillier, Diana MacCallum, Donna Houston

Friday 14 July, 2017: Session Frontiers of Ecological and Environmental Justice: Who and What Counts? 10:40am-12:10pm, Chamberlain 35-103

Seminar: Room Sharing: A solution or an exacerbation to rental housing affordability crisis in Sydney? Zahra Nasreen

Please come along to Zahra Nasreen’s PhD confirmation seminar Tuesday 4th July, room 107 building W6A, 2-3pm.


In Sydney, rental housing affordability and inadequate security of tenure are major issues for low-to-middle income households. Shared housing via online accommodation listings has emerged as a popular and affordable housing choice for many Sydneysiders. Research aimed at gauging the impact of shared housing, particularly room sharing on occupants and wider-market rental housing is sparse. In this seminar I will outline my PhD project using a mixed-method approach for achieving the research objectives 1) to estimate the geography, characteristics and impacts of shared rooms advertised on an online listings website; 2) to assess the socio-spatial and economic challenges faced by low-income tenants in the private rental market; and, 3) to examine the who, why and how of living in shared rooms.



Bio: Zahra Nasreen is an Urban Planner with diverse experience in affordable housing schemes, land use planning, database mapping and the solid waste management sector. Studying conflicts of planning policies and practices with local communities’ needs has always been her aspiration. Her previous research includes impact assessment of Regularisation and Development Program for squatter settlements, and Public Private Partnership Program for solid waste management services in Lahore, Pakistan.


Seminar: An all-ecology approach to understanding an urban planning process in Sweden – nature and culture – Dr Wiktoria Glad, Tues 27th June 2017

Please join us for Dr Wiktoria Glad’s seminar tomorrow. 12-1pm, room E7B 264 at Macquarie.

Abstract: Sweden is at present undergoing one of the fastest urbanisation processes in Europe. The demand for housing in cities and towns is high. At the same time urban planning processes are perceived as slow and as slowed-down by different mandatory investigations and opportunities for stakeholders and the public to scrutinise the plans. This research shows how a slow process opened up for ideas that made new combinations and co-existence possible. An all-ecology approach based on ideas by Torsten Hägerstrand shows how culture and nature can be understood in terms of local togetherness, collateral processes and co-existence.

wiktoriagladBio: Dr Wiktoria Glad is senior lecturer at the Department of thematic studies – Technology and social change at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research interests have to do with the relations between everyday life, technology, planning and sustainability from the perspectives of users and professionals. The recent research projects she has been involved in have focused on the built environment, energy systems and design.



Seminar today ‘Conservation in the Kunene: Rural Livelihoods and Community-Based Natural Resource Management’ by John Heydinger

Please come along to PhD student John Heydinger’s seminar Tuesday 13th June 12-1pm, W6A room 127. All welcome.

About the seminar:

‘This presentation focuses on the intersection of wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods within Namibia’s communal conservancy system. John will provide a brief historical background on the region, emphasizing how apartheid and its legacies continue to affect community-based natural resource management schemes. He will also lay-out a research programme and objectives for his upcoming PhD fieldwork.’

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About John M Heydinger:

‘John Heydinger is trained in environmental history and conservation biology. His research and fieldwork primarily examines conservation spaces as dynamic social-ecological systems. He is currently working alongside local NGOs to examine how wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods intersect in rural northwestern Namibia.’

Seminar: ‘Berths for the boom – Planning for cruise ship infrastructure in South East Queensland’ Dr Chris Beer

Please come along to Dr Chris Beer’s seminar – all welcome!

When: Tuesday 30 May, 12-1pm.

Where: Building E8A, Tutorial Room 188

Abstract: Australasian ports have had a notable role in the continuing global boom of cruise tourism.  An increasing number of cruise ship visits and growth in the size of ships has meant that new infrastructure has been mooted in many places.  Against this background, this seminar examines planning for new cruise facilities in one of Australia’s major tourism hubs – South East Queensland (SEQ). After briefly analysing the general characteristics of the local cruise sector and the dynamics of cruise infrastructure planning around the world, its focus turns to two continuing SEQ processes – the planned development of new facilities for Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  Each process highlights several broader planning issues facing communities, including the economic impacts of new cruise facilities and competing recreational and environmental values.  The paper concludes that while the cruise industry has clearly developed products with widespread appeal, community views towards the development of cruise facilities can be highly contingent on the littoral space involved and scope for benefit realisation.

Bio: Dr Chris Beer has published articles in journals including Urban Policy and Research, Australian Planner, Political Geography, and Australian Geographer on many topical planning issues including the development of national capital cities, food security, the night-time economy, the development of major cultural institutions and events, and infrastructure for religious communities.  Since completing his PhD at the Australian National University, Dr Beer has been professionally involved with a number of major urban renewal, infrastructure, and greenfield development projects in the ACT and NSW


Seminar: “We don’t need it in Sweden”: Swedish mining industry attitudes concerning respect for indigenous rights by Rebecca Lawrence

Rescheduled for a later date – will update when finalised.

Please come along to Dr Rebecca Lawrence’s talk next Tuesday at Macquarie.

Abstract: There are growing societal expectations, as encompassed in international law and norms, that corporations must seek the consent of affected indigenous communities before undertaking resource extraction activities on indigenous territories. This presentation will discuss some preliminary research findings on the existing knowledge and attitudes within the Swedish mining industry concerning the question of indigenous rights, and specifically that of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Mining companies operating in Sweden do not currently respect or implement the principle of FPIC, and we (Rebecca Lawrence & Sara Moritz, Research Fellow, Political Science, Stockholm University) explore how mining representatives justify and reconcile this through various discourses, including the rationale that human rights protections are superfluous in Sweden.

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Bio: Dr Rebecca Lawrence is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Geography & Planning. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on the intersection of Indigenous claims with governments and the private sector. Her current research projects concern relations between the mining industry and local/Indigenous communities in Sweden, Finland, Norway, South Africa and Australia.



When: 23rd May Tuesday 12:00 – 1:00pm
Where: building W6A room 107, Macquarie University.

No RSVP required. All welcome!