The Institute of Australian Geographers Inc. Conference 2020

Landscapes of change, challenge and creativity

Hosted by the Department of Geography and Planning, UNE

Three landscapes - semi-forest, township and desert - picture taken from above

The 2020 IAG Conference at UNE is an opportunity to showcase and share creative approaches to geographical research and praxis that tackle the challenges we all face.

UNE Business School
University of New England, Armidale NSW, Australia

This event has been cancelled in line with current advice regarding the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

About the conference theme

In geography scholarship, landscapes refer not just to expanses of physical territory but also reference the interactions between human societies and the physical environment within a more-or-less circumscribed area. The distinctiveness of a landscape comes from the co-productive activities of humans and non-human natures over time and space. In many respects, these interrelationships continue to define geography’s subject matter. The notion of landscape has served as a cohering theme in geography for close to a century, often being prefixed with adjectives such as 'cultural', 'social', 'natural', 'economic', 'fluvial' and the like to denote a particular research and teaching specialism. Given the challenges, threats and, of course, opportunities that living in the age of the Anthropocene poses, we feel it is time to reassert the material and imaginative possibilities of integrated thought and action in the generation of just and sustainable futures.

'Change' is omnipresent. It can be seen as a threat as in the current existential threats posed by anthropogenic climate change. But behavioural change is also obviously necessary to achieve social, economic and environmental justice, so change can be positive. This combined noun and verb also reminds us to attend to the nature of change: to the importance of rigour in the measurement and understanding of process.

'Challenge' recognises that we live in challenging times and spaces across a variety of fronts, from the geopolitical, economic, ecological to the existential. The term also reminds us that many of our established ways of thinking and acting in the world are no longer 'fit for purpose', are just plain unsustainable and are increasingly under challenge from competing ideas and movements (witness the recent global protest movements regarding climate change and extinction).

'Creativity' is a recognition that, in an optimistic sense, challenges can be a spur to hitherto unorthodox responses to major concerns. Creativity embodies a sense of hopefulness in our abilities to envision and enact solutions; in the truest sense of scientific endeavour it is a trait that is borne out of experimentation, trial and error and never giving up. In these senses, we see the 2020 IAG Conference at UNE as an opportunity to showcase and share creative approaches to geographical research and praxis that tackle the challenges we all face.

Plenary speakers

Portrait image of Bernie Shakeshaft in a rural landscape

Bernie Shakeshaft
Founder & CEO, BackTrack Youth Works

Bernie’s vision is for a country where disadvantaged youth have the support, opportunities and community connections they need to participate in society in a meaningful way.

With over 25 years’ experience working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in rural Australia, Bernie certainly knows a thing or two about what it takes to make real impact and achieve life-changing results for young people. Determined to turn his vision into a reality, Bernie founded BackTrack – an innovative program helping young people break the cycle of abuse, family dislocation, drug or alcohol abuse. Based on the simple premise of mateship, a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose, Bernie started BackTrack with nothing except the determination to make a real difference.

BackTrack fills critical service gaps that currently exist in rural communities and works to address a range of social problems, including alternatives to lockup, education for kids disengaged from the education system, safe accommodation for homeless young people, pathways to reengage with community and achieve real life skills and pathways to employment. Bernie has witnessed the growth of so many young people in the community and as he says, “For confirmation that BackTrack works, trot down to the Shed anytime and look into the faces of our champion young people, and prepare to be inspired…”

Bernie was recently awarded the 2020 NSW Australian of the Year in the Local Hero category.

Professor Harriet Hawkins 
Founder & Co-director, Centre for the GeoHumanities, Royal Holloway University of London

Professor Harriet Hawkins’ research explores the geographies of art works and art worlds, including the methodological potential of geography’s ‘creative turn’, and the possibilities of the interdisciplinary GeoHumanities. She is interested in the histories, current use and future world making potential of ideas and practices of aesthetics, creativity and the imagination. Focusing on topics including rubbish and waste, landscape and the environment, and currently subterranean spaces, she has collaborated with a range of artists, arts organisations and communities around the world, to produce new art work, curate arts events and exhibitions, alongside producing research papers and monographs. Her current research, funded by the European Research Council, explores how art- practice based research can tackle the challenges associated with sensing, imagination and speculating on the underground, such a crucial site of current environmental challenges and future possibilities. Harriet is an editor of the journal cultural geographies, and associated editor of the journal GeoHumanities.

Casual cropped portrait image of Professor Patrick Nunn Professor Patrick Nunn
Professor of Geography, University of the Sunshine Coast 

Before his current position, Professor Patrick Nunn was a Head of School at the University of New England. He has a current h-index of 43 and more than 270 peer-reviewed publications. For more than thirty years, his research has focused on climate change issues in the Pacific Islands, understanding past and (likely) future human-climate interactions and their implications for coastal livelihoods. This work also saw the publication of several books including Oceanic Islands (Blackwell, 1994) and Climate, Environment and Society in the Pacific (Elsevier, 2007). A long involvement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) led to Patrick sharing its 2007 Nobel Peace Prize; Patrick was a lead author on the chapter about ‘Sea Level Change’ in the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report and is currently a lead author on the chapter about ‘Small Islands’ for its 6th Assessment. Another of Patrick’s research interests focuses on ancient understandings of environmental change and how these have been culturally filtered and encoded in narrative and myth. Australia-focused, this research led to the award (with UNE linguist Nick Reid) by the Geographical Society of New South Wales of the Best Paper 2016 in the journal Australian Geographer and in 2018 the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland, and was laid out in his popular book, The Edge of Memory (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Dr Kirsten Martinus
Senior Research Fellow in Human Geography at The University of Western Australia.

Casual portrait image of Kirsten MartinusDr Kirsten Martinus has been in city economic and business development for over 18 years. Before becoming an academic, she worked as a private economic development consultant and accredited Japanese/English interpreter in the various countries of residence of Australia, USA, Indonesia and Japan. Her work in the private sector was highly practice-oriented and policy focused with clients in private enterprise, local and State governments; she has won national awards for innovativeness and excellence. She has worked at UWA since obtaining her PhD in 2012, playing a lead role in an industry-funded research agenda for Perth, Western Australia, as well as working with leading scholars in Belgium, Germany, Canada, Japan and USA to unpack the links between resource wealth, regional innovation and global competitiveness. Her academic work balances fundamental research with applied outputs to inform strategic policy and decision making for local and state government. She continues to consult for State government in all aspects of economic development, including city productivity, innovation systems, resource inequality, and related policies. She has won several large competitive grants for her research including from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Federal Governments Smart Cities Smart Suburbs Program. She has an early career fellowship (DECRA) examining innovation in peripheral regions (in Australian and Japanese outer metropolitan and regional areas), and is a board member for the Australian Academy of Sciences National Committee for Geographical Sciences, on the editorial board for Geographical Research and the national co-convener of the Institute of Australian Geographers Economic Geography Study Group. She has published widely in leading scholarly journals, book chapters, as well as authored FACTBases for Committee for Perth and industry reports for national, state and local governments.

Conference plenary abstract: The big 'switch-back'?: Challenging and (re)creating landscapes of the peripheries

Session proposals

Please view the session proposals in the drop-down list below.

Children's geographies 
  • Diverse children and childhoods in changing landscapes
  • Children and young people’s landscapes of belonging

Diverse children and childhoods in changing landscapes

Session convenors: Dr Lisa Stafford (QUT), Associate Professor Wendy Steele (RMIT), Associate Professor Harriot Beazley (USC)

We invite papers and creative works that explore the critical geographies of children and young people in a changing landscape. This includes but is not limited to key themes such as:

  • Diverse childhoods and disruptive landscapes
  • Urbanised landscapes and play  inc. re-imagining streets, neighbourhoods, towns
  • Landscapes of Inclusion and Exclusion
  • Intergenerational Injustice and Climate Change
  • Place and Identity in the lives of children and young people
  • Using Participatory Methods to understand children's experiences with landscapes

Children and young people’s landscapes of belonging

In a time of great uncertainty, narratives of belonging for children and young people are a central part of geographical research. The last decade has proven that children and young people want to (and should) have their voices heard, whether that be in participatory research, through protests, movements, or on social media. The everyday experiences for this age group influence their own landscapes of belonging as they navigate through feelings of inclusion and exclusion across different spaces in their lives. Children and young people often develop understandings about the world around them through news stories and social media. These understandings can stimulate feelings of fear or empowerment that can further shape their own landscapes of belonging. How do children and young people challenge their own landscapes of belonging in their everyday lives? How can we address the challenges we face in research with children and young people during this time of uncertainty? The aim of this session is to invigorate discussion on these landscapes of belonging through a look at recent research in this area, as well as the consideration of how we, as geographers, can ensure that the next decade of research involves the recognition of children and young people as integral in the future of our planet.

Critical development/Indigenous knowledges
  • Critical yet hopeful development geographies
    Development in geographies by, for and on behalf of indigenous peoples
  • (Re)thinking socio-natural relations around all things justice: Evolutions, fragmentations and rapprochements
  • Unsettling 'collaborative' environmental management between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

Critical yet hopeful development geographies

Fiona Miller, Sarah Wright and Andrew Deuchar on behalf of the Critical Development Geography Study Group

This session is oriented towards the challenge of maintaining critical yet hopeful scholarship and pedagogy in development geography in the context of rising global inequality, climate change, mass extinction, populism and authoritarianism. This session invites papers broadly in the field of critical development geography addressing contemporary questions of development theory, research, practice and pedagogy. We are particularly interested in new and emerging research as well as papers oriented to matters of justice, sustainability, equality, anti-racism and peace. Potential topics of papers may include:

  • Emancipatory methodologies in and pedagogies of development
  • Indigenous-led geographies of development
  • Care, affect and emotions as post-development practice
  • Development policies and interventions
  • Migration, displacement and development
  • Gender dimensions and development
  • Anti-racism and decolonization in development pedagogy and practice
  • Solidarity movements, alliances, activism and development
  • Marginality, exclusion, empowerment and development
  • Justice, rights and development
  • Hopeful and strengths-based approaches in development

Developments in geographies by, for and on behalf of Indigenous peoples

This general session is focused on developments in geographies by, for and on behalf of Indigenous peoples in Australia and around the globe. We are particularly interested in how spaces and narratives of convergence, emergence and divergence have been and are being navigated to support Indigenous peoples, Country, knowledges and rights.

(Re)thinking socio-natural relations around all things justice: Evolutions, fragmentations and rapprochements

Session convenors: Karen Paiva Henrique, Alicea Garciaand Petra Tschakert (University of Western Australia), Mark Bailey (Griffith University) and Jason Byrne (University of Tasmania)

During the past forty years, we have seen a proliferation of social movements engaging with conceptions of justice and nature, including the civil rights movements in the USA, the Green Ban movement in Australia, the environmental justice movement globally, and more recently the climate justice and extinction rebellion movements, among others. Conceptions of justice in these social movements have similarities but also differences, mirrored in the theoretical lenses that have been employed to examine them.

This session welcomes papers thatcritically examine how justice has been employed by different movements and discourses and to what ends, and which assess their suitability for addressing the multifaceted socio-ecological impacts of the global climate crisis. We seek to question which/whose voices and interests are represented in the pursuit of different conceptions of justice (e.g., distributive, participatory and recognition) and potential pathways towards remedying issues, without exacerbating or engendering new inequalities and forms of oppression.

We welcome contributions that look inwards into justice-oriented movements and discourses (e.g., environmental, social, multispecies, and climate justice) to examine questions of representation, recognition, and autonomy – across privilege and disadvantage. And we encourage papers that look outwards and across different approaches, to critically examine linkages and potential tensions in issue framing – especially between the Global North and South – and that challenge how scale, space, place, and socio-ecological relations are made and un-made through different types of environmental contestation and appeals to justice.

We aim to identify new research directions to scrutinise multiple and intersecting injustices from a geographical perspective and are open to all who commit to justice in a time of accelerated environmental change. This will be a paper and discussion session. Up to five (co)authored papers are envisaged for the session. We would be delighted to consider an additional session, if the call for papers generates substantial interest.

Unsettling 'collaborative' environmental management between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

Vanessa Cavanagh, University of Wollongong
Jessica Weir, Western Sydney University
Will Smith, Deakin University

The recent catastrophic bushfires have led to renewed calls to support Indigenous peoples’ cultural and cool burns to look after ecological life and reduce fuel loads, bringing renewed focus to collaborative environmental management matters. Environmental management is an important site of collaboration between Indigenous peoples, and the many other people and institutions who have environmental management interests on Indigenous peoples’ homelands – including nation-states, the academy, corporations, civil society and individuals (Mackie and Meacheam 2016). Nonetheless, Indigenous peoples routinely contest its purposes as well as forms, and call for systemic reform across matters of power and epistemology (Whyte 2018; Hemming et al. 2010). These geographies of conflict, injustice and miscommunication are often smoothed over through discourses of ‘community-based’, ‘local’, and ‘collaborative’ environmental management (Muller et al. 2019; Smith 2005). Environmental management itself is often presented in benign terms as a worthy activity, without the need for dispute resolution processes (Neale 2017). Critical scholars investigating these disjunctures and alignments face a series of important questions: How are such collaborations deemed successful, and by whom? How does the relational nature of collaborative environmental management problematize presumed strict boundaries of ‘science’ and ‘Indigenous knowledge’? How do matters of power shift, emerge and transform for better or worse through collaborative management? This panel invites papers that look beyond slogans and bureaucratic platitudes, to grapple with the political and epistemological implications of collaborative environmental management in Australia and elsewhere. We particularly encourage perspectives from Indigenous scholars and practitioners, and other scholars with ethical research agreements with Indigenous peoples. In addition to work focusing on Indigenous peoples’ perspectives and experiences, we also welcome papers that hold scientists and government officials, and their discourse and practices, as the focal points of exploration.

Cultural/environmental geography
  • Environmental change and intimacy
  • Geographies of the ground: materials, mobilities, temporalities
  • Rethinking infrastructure: Change challenge and creativity
  • New and emerging research in cultural geography
  • Geography of creative expression
  • Documentary filmmaking in geography
  • Digi-scapes: Considering digital landscapes in geography’s digital turn
  • Legal geography futures

Environmental change and intimacy

Leah Gibbs, University of Wollongong, Helen F. Wilson, Durham University

This session considers how environmental change (however conceptualised) reworks, facilitates and/or unsettles intimacies across a range of sites, scenes, scales, and spaces. Whether focused on tidal estuaries or urban communities, bushland or beach, we invite a deliberately broad understanding of intimacy, whether human and/or non-human, elemental or material, feared or cherished. By paying attention to how intimacy appears in narratives and experiences of environmental change—whether catastrophic or mundane—we seek to address the implications for embodied life, and the interactions of culture, economy and politics.

Empirical studies might range from intimate more-than-human relations with private gardens or public parks; intimate interactions with species newly inhabiting a region or space; ambivalent encounters with potentially dangerous species; labour with weedy others; work with infrastructure or materials; efforts to preserve, protect or recover following catastrophic events; entanglements with the elements; engagements with watery places, such as rivers, waterholes, lakes, the ocean, ports, or public pools. Conceptual concerns may be equally broad, and consider notions of encounter, coexistence, transgression, edges, care, contact zones, multispecies ethics, and practice, to name just some concerns.

Questions at the heart of this call include: How might the intimacies of environmental change entangle risk and care, hope and pessimism? How do they become the basis for ethics, mutuality, conflict or denial? How are such intimacies sensed, researched and/or politicised, and with what implications? And how do they appear in and shape public discourse?

We invite methodological, empirical and theoretical contributions.

Geographies of the ground: materials, mobilities, temporalities

Tim Edensor & Catherine Phillips

The ground – the earth’s solid surface upon which we live – is a physical manifestation of intermingling traces. Air, water, plants, chemicals penetrate it, while it emits gases and reveals elements. The ground, and the realms it covers, serves as a source for production and a sink for disposal. The traces that inhabit the ground serve as reminders of geologic and cultural histories, but imaginings of the future find inspiration here as well.

Recent work about vertical geographies has alerted us to the horizontalism of much geography. What happens if we scratch this surface? What stories, matters, and interconnections might be revealed, if we delve into the depths of the ground? Much has been consigned to the underground. Edgeworth, for instance, (2017: 157) explains how discarded material provides a foundation on which cities perpetually rise; in central London, this platform is 5-8 metres thick. In another vein, we might ask how the Anthropocene is revealed (or obscured) with notions of material disposal and transformation mark temporal boundaries. What extractions and depositions are occurring, and what this might suggest for future worlds and stratigraphies?

This session seeks papers that explore the diverse ways in which we might investigate what lies within and beneath ground. Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • What substances find their way underground or to the surface, and with what consequences? What toxicities or therapies emerge? How might we theorise this material that has moved and now mingles with different human and non-humans?
  • What materials, stories, possibilities appear through examination of that which has been covered, discarded, buried? What are the implications of the substances that have been discarded and covered over for the surface?
  • How do different humans and non-humans dwell underground? How are such inhabitations practiced and understood? What might these tell us about shared existences, or new ways of understanding geographies?
  • How are particular underground terrains threaded with successive forms of infrastructure and how might we conceptualise such composite undergrounds?
  • What removals, disposals, and accommodations constitute particular under/grounds? What mobilities are involved? And what interests inform these changes, and their impacts?

Rethinking infrastructure: Change, challenge and creativity

Associate Professor Kathy Mee, Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle, Dr Emma Power Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Dr Ilan Wiesel School of Geography, University of Melbourne

Geographers are increasingly utilising the concept of infrastructure as a way to understand the challenges of social change and creative responses to surviving, thriving and flourishing. According to Berlant (2016 p. 393) “at some crisis times like this one, politics is defined by a collectively held sense that a glitch has appeared in the reproduction of life. A glitch is an interruption within a transition, a troubled transmission. A glitch is also the revelation of an infrastructural failure”.

Infrastructures are sociotechnical tools, systems and practices that operate in the background of social life, organising and patterning its possibilities (Amin 2014: 138). The things that people do, even when initially provisional, variable, adaptable and mobile, over time become institutionalised as infrastructures as they are re-performed across space and time. Infrastructures involve both material and immaterial elements, including physical objects and technologies, discourses, symbols, systems, management models, energy, plans, designs and affects (Wilson 2016 p. 273-274). New infrastructural research considers “what infrastructural forms do in context and in relation to specific sets of actors and practices” (Power & Mee 2019 p.  5).

Geographers have utilised this wider concept of infrastructure to explore a range of phenomena and practices, including affect, adaptation, care, digitalisation, financialisation, governance, habit, mobility, violence and vulnerability.  We invite papers in this session that rethink infrastructural change, the challenges this brings and creative responses to infrastructures at a range of scales and through a variety of (sub)disciplinary perspectives.

  • Amin A (2014) Lively Infrastructure, Theory, Culture & Society, 31, 7-8: 137-161.
  • Berlant, L. (2016). The commons: Infrastructures for troubling times. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 34(3), 393-419.
  • Power ER & Mee KJ (2019) Housing: an infrastructure of care, Housing Studies: 1-22.
  • Wilson A (2016) The Infrastructure of Intimacy, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 41, 2: 247-280.

New and emerging research in cultural geography

IAG Cultural Geography Study Group Convenors Michelle Duffy, Michele Lobo, Kaya Barry and Vickie Zhang 

In this session we provide a forum for postgraduates, early career researchers and research leaders to showcase recent cutting-edge research in Cultural Geography. Cultural geography comprises a wide-ranging group of geographical sub-disciplines that engages with the arts, humanities, natural and social sciences. Cultural domains of geographical research continue to grow in breadth and depth, with expanding theoretical formulations, methodological approaches and fields of interest. Cultural geographers embrace the historical, material, digital, discursive and affective to advance understandings of place, space and the environment. We welcome your papers that expand the horizon of Cultural Geography! Standard papers/alternative formats welcome.

Geographies of creative expression

Session Organisers: Carlota de la Herrán Iriarte (UNSW Canberra); Zhe Li (UNSW Canberra); George Burdon (UNSW Canberra) Melinda Young (UNSW/UOW), Chantel Carr (UOW)

This session seeks to explore how creative modes of expression might constitute different ways of perceiving and knowing the world, and thus provide crucial sites for geographical thought. Affirming that “the world does not exist outside of its expressions” (Massumi, 2002: xiii), this session seeks to open a space for the analysis of creative modes of expression—such as those provided in literature, cinema, art and music—and the corresponding worlds they might generate, and how these might provoke, call into question or reframe the notions by which geographical thought proceeds. Whilst acknowledging the history of disciplinary research surrounding creativity and creative practices—and in a time in which the term ‘creativity’ risks becoming an empty buzzword of the neoliberal and entrepreneurial capitalist project (Raunig, 2013)—this session seeks to ask not how geographers might become more ‘creative’ or how any specific individual, object or practice can be labelled creative; instead the session seeks to theorise creative events as expressive in a sense that would therefore open a wider remit of potential ‘sites’ of creativity.

This session therefore invites conceptual and empirical contributions that re-situate creative expression as a vector for different ways of ‘doing’ geographical thinking. In doing so, the session seeks to contribute to a conceptualisation of the ideational and material, non-representational forces of the world that exist beyond a human-centred, rationalist mode of apprehension (Williams et al. 2019; Ruddick, 2017). Furthermore, this session wishes to explore alternative and experimental modes of academic presenting that might enable geographers to enact the molecular force of expression beyond all molar systems of meaning and communication (McCormack, 2010). Here we might also look to Hawkins’ (2013; 2015) sustained calls to pursue geography’s interdisciplinary relationship with creative and arts-based practices and methodologies for inspiration. Finally, and politically, the session hopes to probe how creative expression might speak to “a world of many worlds” (Blaser & de la Cadena, 2018: 1), what William James named a ‘pluriverse’: one “permanently in the making, ongoing and unfinished” (Savranski, 2019: 17).

The following is a non-exhaustive list of themes that contributions might engage with:

  • Geographical sensibilities as expressed through film, music, art, literature or other creative practices
  • The (micro-)politics of creative expression
  • Emergent sites of art-science collaboration
  • Philosophies of expression or creativity
  • Post-/de-colonial expression
  • Collectives/communities of expression
  • Creative expression and feminist critique
  • Engagements with the expressive force of human/nonhuman entanglements
  • Conceptual and/or empirical experiments with creative modes of academic writing and presenting
  • The geographies of specific modes of creative expression


  • Blaser, M., and de la Cadena, M. (2018). ‘Pluriverse: Proposals for a world of many worlds”. In A World of Many Worlds, Durham and London: Duke.
  • Hawkins, H (2013) For Creative Geographies: Geography, Visual Arts and the Making of Worlds. Routledge.
  • Hawkins, H (2015) Creative geographic methods: Knowing, representing, intervening. On composing place and page. cultural geographies 22(2): 247-268.
  • Massumi, B. 2002. ‘Introduction: Like a Thought’. In B. Massumi [ed.] A Shock to Thought: Expression after Deleuze and Guattari. Pp. Xiii-xxxix.
  • McCormack (2010) Thinking in Transition: The Affirmative Refrain of Experience/Experiment. In B. Anderson and P. Harrison (Eds.) Taking Place: Non-representational Theories and Geography (pp.201-220). Surrey: Ashgate.
  • Raunig, G. (2013). Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).
  • Ruddick, S. (2017). ‘Rethinking the subject, reimagining worlds’. Dialogues in Human Geography, 7(2), pp. 119-139.
  • Savranski, M. (2019). ‘The Pluralistic Problematic: William James and the Pragmatics of the Pluriverse’. Theory, Culture, Society. Online First, pp. 1-19.
  • Williams, N., Patchett, M., Lapworth, A., Roberts, T., and Keating, T., (2019). ‘Practising post-humanism in geographical research’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44(4), pp.637-643.

Documentary filmmaking in geography

Vicki Zhang

Geographers Jane Dyson, Lisa Palmer and myself, Vickie Zhang, from the University of Melbourne are interested in organising a stream showcasing documentary films made by geographers at the 2020 IAG in Armidale. This is an event that aims to build on the foundations laid by a documentary workshop organised with the IAG Cultural Geography Study Group at the 2019 IAG in Hobart. We intend to have an open call for films made by geographers, out of which we aim to curate a selection of films with the assistance of geographers across the country for review.

We are envisaging that the IAG 2020 event this would involve a social evening screening event (e.g. including drinks and popcorn), and a room or set of sessions during the conference in which a programme of films would be screened. Our hope is that it might be the first in an ongoing series of screening sessions at future IAGs, drawing on the increasing interest in film-making in academic geography around the world.

Digi-scapes: Considering digital landscapes in geography’s digital turn

Dr Catherine Rita Volpe University of New England

In consideration of the ‘digital turn’ in Geography, proposed by Ash, Kitchin and Leszczynski (2018: 27), this session will stimulate discussion on how the growing use of digital technology and the dependency of its use in our everyday lives informs geographical research in challenging and creative ways. The fast-paced cultural flows in our world today are enhanced by the use of digital technologies, which pinpoints the need to examine how digi-scapes (digital landscapes) are transforming notions of space, place and community through the different ways that humans are interacting with one another and their physical and social environments. The aim of this session is to encourage discussion on how digital landscapes are renovating geographical education and research. How can we theorise notions of digital landscapes? How are understandings of space and place challenged by the digital world? As geographers, how can we contribute to ‘the digital turn’ in Geography through expanding our ideas of what digi-scapes may entail?

Ash, J., Kitchin, R., & Leszczynski, A. (2018). Digital turn, digital geographies? Progress in Human Geography, 42(1): 25-43.

Legal geography futures

Tayanah O’Donnell (ANU and Jo Gillespie (USyd) as part of the Legal Geography Study Group.

Scholarship linking geography and regulatory settings is now well established and blossoming. Australian legal geographers have been at the forefront of leading the world in untangling the geography/law nexus. In this session we are looking to explore the myriad ways in which geographers engage with the law.  From everyday encounters in urban contexts to control of remote, rural locations, each place tells a regulatory story over time and space. In this session we invite contributors to celebrate the legal geography journey.  From empirical case studies to conceptual framings, we are interested in scholarship which explicitly, and sometimes implicitly, embraces the geography-law dynamic.

Economic geographies

    Democratising green finance

    Dr Gareth Bryant, Political Economy, The University of Sydney, Dr Sophie Webber, Geosciences, The University of Sydney

    Geographers have long studied the commodification, marketization and financialization of nature and environmental governance. In doing so, they have charted innovation and experimentation, identified new forms and sites of value, and examined emerging expertise and scientific knowledge. But, geographers have also demonstrated that attempts to make nature and finance compatible are spatially and socially uneven, produce environmentally flawed outcomes and include undemocratic and unjust processes. In response to the acknowledged contradictions, failures and limits of the economization of nature, this session invites papers that identify and analyse more collective, common, reparative, decolonising, and democratic proposals for financing and governing environments and environmental changes. We invite papers that are analytical, empirical and/or practical and from a plurality of conceptual approaches and geographical sites. The goal of the session is to offer analytical and concrete alternatives to the increasingly privatised and financialised governance of nature, something that will be increasingly necessary in responding to multiple environmental crises.]

Environmental change, risk and responses 
  • Geographies of the climate emergency
  • Living well in the flammable landscapes of the Anthropocene
  • On the move? Emergency (im)mobilities in the changing climate
  • Geographers 'declare'?
  • The contested geography of post-disaster reconstruction and recovery efforts
  • New geographies of environment: the intersection of risk, resilience and sustainability
  • Regional resilience and vulnerabilities in the Anthropocene

Geographies of the climate emergency

Lauren Rickards (RMIT University), Sophie Webber (University of Sydney) and Blanche Verlie (University of Sydney), as part of the Nature, Risk and Resilience Study Group.

Throughout the last few years the ‘climate emergency’ movement has grown from a small community led campaign in Melbourne to a worldwide framing sufficiently dominant for the term to be the Oxford Dictionary’s 2019 Word of the Year. Typically, the ‘climate emergency’ framing has been used by activists to call attention to the urgency of achieving rapid emissions reductions. In the 2019-20 Australian summer, however, the climate emergency has been experienced as a more specific bushfire and smoke emergency. This crisis has led to ‘states of emergency’ and ‘states of disaster’ being declared, complete with deployment of the Australian Defence Forces as well as other emergency services being pushed to the brink of their capacity. Meanwhile, prominent leaders including the Prime Minister, suggest that adaptation and resilience are the necessary response.

In these sessions, we seek to understand the spatial and temporal rhythms of ‘climate emergencies’. Specifically, papers in this session will explore how rationalities of ‘emergency’ play out in both mitigation and adaptation, and how they might intersect. We welcome papers from Australia and beyond. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

Who is using the climate emergency framing and why? How does its meaning alter as it used by different groups, from higher education institutions and governments to communities and students (see Verlie 2019)?

How does ‘climate emergency’ language motivate or justify climate action - or inaction - on mitigation, climate engineering or adaptation? How does it challenge or encourage the sense that it is already ‘too late’ for some things or some beings (Hulme 2020)?

What forms of climate resilience – for instance, neoliberal and individualistic, or ecological and community-based - does an emergency lensencourage?

What are the relations between the hierarchical nature of emergency management and the climate activism seeking climate emergency declarations?

How does a sense of urgency about climate change, or particular emergencies, intersect with the slow work of climate justice? How does the climate emergency intersect with the ‘slow emergencies’ (Anderson et al. 2019) many marginalised groups have to live with on a daily basis?

What does the rapid uptake of the climate emergency framework mean for critical climate adaptation scholarship (cf Webber 2016)? How does academia need to respond?


  • Anderson, B., K. Grove, L. Rickards and M. Kearnes (2019). "Slow emergencies: temporality and the racialised biopolitics of emergency governance." Progress in Human Geography. Online first.
  • Hulme, M. (2020). "Is it too late (to stop dangerous climate change)? An editorial." WIREs Climate Change11(1): e619.
  • Verlie, B. (2019. "Bearing worlds: Learning to live-with climate change". Environmental Education Research 25 (5): 751-766.
  • Webber, S. (2016). "Climate change adaptation as a growing development priority: Towards critical adaptation scholarship." Geography Compass 10(10): 401-413.

Living well in the flammable landscapes of the Anthropocene

Jason Alexandra, RMIT, David Bowman, University of Tasmania. Study group sponsor: Nature, Risk and Resilience Study Group.

This session will draw on Australia’s recent experience to explore the range of socio-economic and environmental factors that determine vulnerability to disastrous bushfires.

In particular it will focus on opportunities to develop ways of living well in flammable landscapes, and what this means for rural and peri-urban areas.

Land use and spatial questions play key roles in the knowing and governing of landscapes, shaping the relational dynamics of bushfires, people and place. These are key concerns for geographers. As a determinant of peoples’ exposure to hazards, spatial factors are central to disaster mitigation and justice.

This session explores opportunities and challenges involved in using integrated approaches to understanding and mitigating bushfire risks. With climate change increasing bushfire impacts and intensities, knowledge of bushfires needs to be systemically converted to plans, policies and practices. Learning to live in the more highly flammable landscapes of the Anthropocene requires adaptive policies and deeper respect for the co-produced nature of country and its bushfires.

Designed to explore the issues from both physical and human geography perspectives, this session will especially focus on the following questions:

  • What new geographies of fire are emerging in Australia and why?
  • What does the Anthropocene mean for fire planning and management?
  • Will the increased intensity of fires result in new and different patterns of settlement and land use?
  • What kinds of research are need to understand the changing nature of risk and to generate the social and technical changes needed to handle the new fire regimes?

On the move? Emergency (im)mobilities in a changing climate

Carrie Wilkinson (University of Wollongong) and Joshua Whittaker (University of Wollongong) – this session is sponsored by the Nature, Risk and Resilience study group

Mobilities scholars have sought to deepen understanding of the relationships between bodies and place. The so called ‘new mobilities’ paradigm or ‘mobility turn’ has brought together a range of theories for a conceptualisation of movement that thinks not only about movement and space, but meaning, materials and affect. The intersection of mobility and disaster is reflected in an emerging literature on ‘emergency mobilities’. Emergencies are characterised by different forms of movement. Emergencies not only impact on existing mobility systems but also generate their own unique (im)mobilities. As evidenced by the ongoing bushfire crisis in Australia—in which thousands of people have been evacuated, stranded and displaced—disasters are unfolding over unprecedented temporal and spatial scales, complicating and confounding emergency management efforts. This session seeks to provide a forum in which to explore the diverse and complex (im)mobilities of emergencies. This may include no-notice, short-notice and slow-onset disasters, such as wildfire, floods, heatwaves, sea-level rise, earthquakes, cyclones, war and famine. Discussion points could include (but are not limited to): How are (im)mobilities governed in a crisis? How do different actors define and understand the emergency and (im)mobility? Whose bodies, both human and non-human, are (im)mobile in disasters? What experimental and improvisatory ways are individuals and communities living with and moving (or not) under threat of a disaster? We invite contributions that attend to the environmental, social and cultural specificities of (im)mobilities shaped through disasters. Theoretical, methodological and empirical research papers are welcome.

Geographers 'declare'?

Panel Chairs: Carrie Wilkinson, Susannah Clement & Laura Hammersley (University of Wollongong)

It is increasingly evident that the world is hurtling towards and past planetary boundaries with a range of deleterious environmental, social and economic affects globally, nationally and locally. In response to the failure of governments to address the causes and effects of climate change the call to take emergency action is increasingly being taken up by individuals and organisations. Beyond grassroots movements like the ‘Schools Strike for Climate’ and ‘Extinction Rebellion’, a growing number of local governments (CEDAMIA, 2019), industries, organisations and peak bodies, including architects, engineers and doctors, are “declaring” a climate and biodiversity emergency in Australia and abroad (Alliance of World Scientists, 2019).

Climate emergency declarations have been critiqued for a lack consistency in their manifestos, for being just ‘hollow symbolism’ (Kilvert, 2019), or a ‘publicity stunt’. Yet what they produce and have in common, regardless of the industry or organisation of their origin, is the making public a commitment and call to action for positive environmental and social outcomes. These declarations present a sense of unity on climate change action within organisations, and (potentially) work to move the discussion of environmental impacts from the fringes to the centre of decision making.

As geographers, we have relationships with, and responsibility to Country, as the field of all our work. We note that there is yet to be a unified declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency from geographers in Australia. This forms the basis of the panel discussion.

We are seeking panellists interested in exploring the question of a climate and biodiversity emergency declaration from geographers in Australia. The format would be for panellists to provide a five minute reflection to the provocation “Geographers declare?” followed by an audience Q&A. We envisage that the conversation may respond to and engage with the following questions (this is by no means a prescriptive or exhaustive list):

  • What are our responsibilities as geographers? What are our commitments and obligations?
  • What is our declaration? With the fracturing of the discipline and academic workplaces, how might a declaration from geographers come about? Is this desirable? What might our manifesto be?
  • What does it mean to declare?
  • Who listens to us? Who’s voices and stories do we tell? What knowledge systems do we draw on?
  • What actions come from this? What changes do we make?


The contested geography of post-disaster reconstruction and recovery efforts

Dr Mittul Vahanvati**, Lecturer, Lucinda Peterson**, MPIA, Associate Lecturer

As Australia continues to face the most devastating bushfire in its history, it is of utmost importance to comprehend how reconstruction and recovery is planned and managed ‘for’ and ‘by’ society. Geographers are recognised to be the founding disciplines of hazards due to their focus on understanding human-nature interactions. Research over the last forty years on human or societal construction of disasters, risk and vulnerability has revealed the importance of power (political, financial or social), governance and/or innovation in shaping recovery practices and outcomes. Each geographical region brings its own cultural values, political, economic and environmental systems. Shaping disaster recovery and reconstruction programs becomes highly complex due to such contestations that emerge from a particular place, sectors, disciplines and stakeholders (politicians, researchers, professionals and community groups). Such a contested geography of post-disaster reconstruction and recovery efforts demand trans-disciplinary interactions to allow for different mindsets and world views to come to a consensus and initiate transformative actions necessary for ‘positive change’.

This session welcomes empirical and theoretical papers that provide insights into how power and governance or innovations have managed to initiate positive change. Empirical papers drawing on case-study examples from a particular country, state or place and/or disaster events that extend across spatial boundaries, are welcomed. Theoretical papers contributing to scholarly discussion on how such systems thinking or nature-based approach can influence reconstruction and recovery programs are also welcomed. The overall aim of this session is to draw on and learn from each other on how to address the mammoth task of rebuilding human settlements, communities and ecosystems in the age of Anthropocene, in a manner that not only ensures our existence but resilience.

New geographies of environment: the intersection of risk, resilience and sustainability

Lauren Rickards, RMIT, Phil McManus, U.Syd. Study group sponsor: Nature, Risk and Resilience

As the new decade emerges, so too are new geographies of risk, resilience and sustainability. In turn, these are converging in new geographies of environment.

This session encourages empirical and conceptual papers that explore into how different areas of life are generating or responding to shifts in the environment and to what effect. Its aim is to provide insight into what new geographies of the environment are being generated in diverse professional, public, political and personal spheres.

Three topics are of particular interest:

  • How are particular groups helping shape and respond to new environments and environmental challenges? How does this play out at different scales, from the global scale of climate change and mass extinctions, to the intimate scale of closed rooms, air masks and koala mittens?
  • How are fears about dangerous environments (e.g. those characterised by fires, dust or toxins) intersecting with fears about endangered environments (e.g. water catchments, coral reefs, ecological refugia)?
  • How are physical disruptions, or the fear of them, interrupting or triggering efforts to reshape social relations with the physical world, for better or worse?

Regional resilience and vulnerabilities in the Anthropocene

Session organisers: Michelle Duffy, Beth Edmondson, Kaya Barry

In recent years an expanding literature has begun to explore regional vulnerabilities to anthropogenic climate change. Spanning many disciplines, this scholarship shows promising signs of supporting new understandings of some of the particularities of regions as sites of resilience and challenge. In Australia, regions are ‘often the first areas that suffer from and exhibit adverse impacts from changes’ (Sullivan, 2020: 1), and they are also often adept at responding to them. We are interested in extending these considerations to build new understandings of how regions are affected by climate change and how they experience the intersections of functioning as environments, societies, production centres, landscapes, sites of leadership, imagination and culture.

As an epoch characterised by rising human-induced instability across the complex and interconnected earth system, the Anthropocene casts a different light on regions.  At this time, regions are where anthropogenic climate change is happening to rivers, farms, animals, rainfalls, forests, food supply chains, how people sustain themselves and others, and relational dynamics between them. In regions, human and non-human species regions are experiencing firsthand problems such as biodiversity loss, climate change, deforestation and land degradation.

The goal of this session is to explore and engage with how people in regions are embedded, both as active agents and subjects of environmental changes that are occurring across human and non-human experiences. These changes are disrupting how human and non-human species live and interrelate.

We invite papers that address questions such as:

  • How do regions engage with and experience the double-edged dynamics between resilience and vulnerability in responding to climate change?
  • How can ideas of place and change, transition and resilience, and challenges for the future, provide new insights into lived experiences of relations between environment, landscape, livelihood and culture?
  • Is the Anthropocene changing the meaning of region/s?
  • How do regions bear witness to climate change?
  • Can new understanding of the intimate and deep entanglements of human and non-human worlds contribute to new resilience in regions experiencing climate change?
  • How can regions create buffering periods of transition as they respond to the most disruptive implications and effects of climate change?
  • How are everyday practices of community resilience enacted informally across regions responding to climate change?
  • How are regions ‘re-establishing landscape connectivity’ as they adapt to climate change (Grecequet et al. 2019: 198).
Geography pedagogy 
  • The changing PhD in Australian geography
  • Challenging thinking and creating dialogue to bring about change in geography education
  • Australian geography curricula and Aboriginal knowledges
  • Geography teaching roundtable

The changing PhD in Australian geography

Organisers: Charishma Ratnam, Monash University and Dr Rae Dufty-Jones, Western Sydney University

The purpose of the PhD has been disrupted by a number of interrelated factors including: massification, internationalization and casualisation. This has significant implications for the career pathways of geography doctoral students. These changes to the PhD have wide ranging ramifications regarding how ‘both universities and the discipline of geography are understood and valued’ by students and staff (Dufty-Jones, 2018: 127).

Assembling a panel of 4-5 geographers at various career stages, this session aims to reflect on how the PhD is changing in Australia and the implications of these changes for the discipline. Framed around the recent commentaries in Geographical Research (Dufty-Jones, 2018; Sigler et al., 2018; and Carter et al., 2018), the panel will discuss and debate:

  • How has the PhD and doctoral experiences changed in Australian Geography?
  • What are the implications of these changes?
  • What strategies have been employed by universities, geography departments, supervisors and doctoral students in this precarious academic landscape?)
  • What next?
  • How can (doctoral students and academic) geographers challenge the career expectations imposed by the neoliberal university?

Challenging thinking and creating dialogue to bring about change in geography education

Mrs Susan Caldis (MQU), Professor Jennifer Carter (USC)

Geography education, as its name suggests, sits at the intersection of two disciplines: geography and education. Whilst there is specific research interest about the pedagogies associated with the teaching of geography, geography education is also about the teaching, learning, thinking and communication processes related to the dissemination of knowledge across and beyond the discipline. The landscape of geography education is vast, stretching across many physical territories – from the personal, to school, to university, to industry, to the public domain. The landscape of geography education also has coverage of the interactions and interrelationships occurring between humans, and between humans and the non-human world. To that end, the whole landscape of geography education is considered in this session. The Decadal Plan, Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future, identifies two (out of four) challenges facing the discipline that refer to the physical territories of geography education: to raise the level of geographical knowledge and understanding within the Australian population; and to improve the disciplines visibility and integrity. Such challenges also refer to the range of interactions occurring between and within such territories. Some specific challenges facing the discipline in connection to geography education include geography being recognised for its role in STEM, the division of the discipline across different university structures which diminish its identity, the lack of geography methodology courses available in Initial Teacher Education programs which affects the pipeline of specialist geography teachers entering schools, and a general lack of understanding by industry and the public as to the usefulness of geography in contemporary society. Several recommendations articulated in the Decadal Plan to respond to the challenges and advance the discipline of geography require action from those who will and do challenge the current narrative and practice about teaching, learning and thinking, and communicating in and across the fields of geography. More creative approaches to the challenges facing the teaching, organisation, and communication of our geographies will support researchers, educators and policymakers to initiate change so the discipline continues to flourish. Therefore, this session aims to enhance the role and influence of geography education in shaping the future of the discipline. Abstracts for theoretical or empirical papers are invited in response to key areas of geography education, such as the design and delivery of higher education courses that span the discipline of Geography; Geography and STEM; Initial Teacher Education and geographical thinking and methodology courses, communicating geography more broadly, and also in education policy. Although there is no IAG Study Group specifically directed towards geography education, it is hoped such a study group will be established in the future. The authors also believe that geography education focused conference session could assist in progressing actions around several recommendations identified in the Decadal Plan for Geography in education and institutions.

Australian Geography curricula and Aboriginal Knowledges

Robert Anders, Roger Vreugdenhil, Sandy Potter, Libby Porter and Jason Byrne

Australian geography is recognised as having been complicit in the White settler colonial project. More than two decades of scholarship has discussed the importance of decolonising geography. But how should we think about what this really means, and what role and responsibility colonial institutions like Universities should bear? While there are many changes underway, there is still considerable work to be done. This interactive paper and panel session will discuss initiatives that have been undertaken in different Australian universities to redevelop the curriculum toward a more responsible relationship with Indigenous sovereignties and knowledge systems. Such initiatives include openly discussing the past role of geography in colonisation and the harms that followed, the steps that have been taken towards reconciliation and more recently efforts to open up the curriculum to Aboriginal knowledges, practices and approaches. This paper and panel session will explore principles that should underpin efforts to develop curricula and content (e.g., co-developing curricula, learning activities, ways of knowing, mode of instruction, assessment, fieldtrips, language, identity, and research) and will draw on examples from panel members own experiences – as well as opening up dialogue with the audience. We welcome papers that address these matters, as well as functioning as a kind of ‘pivot’, like holding up a mirror, so that Indigenous philosophy doesn’t just ‘show us something new’ but makes us understand ourselves and geography differently.


  • Bat, M., Kilgariff, C. and Doe, T., (2014). Indigenous tertiary education–we are all learning: Both-ways pedagogy in the Northern Territory of Australia. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(5), pp.871-886.
  • Bawaka Country, Wright, S., Suchet-Pearson, S., Lloyd, K., Burarrwanga, L., Ganambarr, R., Ganambarr-Stubbs, M., Ganambarr, B., Maymuru, D. and Sweeney, J., (2016). Co-becoming Bawaka: Towards a relational understanding of place/space. Progress in Human Geography, 40(4), pp.455-475.
  • Daigle, M. and Sundberg, J., (2017). From where we stand: unsettling geographical knowledges in the classroom. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42(3), pp.338-341.
  • Howitt, R., (2001). Constructing engagement: geographical education for justice within and beyond tertiary classrooms. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25(2), pp.147-166.
  • Marika, R., (1999). Milthun latju wana romgu yolnu: Valuing yolnu knowledge in the education system. Ngoonjook, (16), p.107-120.
  • Tamisari, F. and Milmilany, E., (2003). Dhinthun Wayawu-looking for a pathway to knowledge: Towards a vision of Yolngu education in Milingimbi. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 32, pp.1-10.

Teaching roundtable: the challenges of creatively implementing blended and flexible learning in higher education

Michelle Duffy Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle, Kathy Mee Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle

Academics in Australia are being inspired, encouraged and pressured to adapt their teaching practices to be more flexible learning experiences for students.  Blended learning has exciting possibilities for introducing new ways of teaching that connect to more traditional geographical practices such as field work.  This roundtable will include short presentations from geographers who have introduced blended and flexible techniques followed by a round table discussion about how blended resources could be more effectively modelled and shared with colleagues.

Rural geographies

The future of small towns and villages in the 'inland': theories and lived experiences

Dean B. Carson (CQUniversity) Alexandre Dubois (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

Since at least the 1950s, researchers in Australia, Canada, Sweden and other high income countries have been questioning the livability of small towns and villages in inland regions, particularly regions which are distant from metropolitan and major urban centres. There have been various arguments made about how people in these villages can connect to changing economies, and how they might withstand the inevitable centralization of population and services. Climate change has also made smaller towns and villages more vulnerable, as has been starkly witnessed in Australia in the past two decades. In Canada, there have been specific policies to help people leave villages. In Sweden, and perhaps in Australia, local and provincial governments have effectively ‘turned the tap off’ (sometimes literally) for municipal and public services in a more covert strategy to concentrate population where it can best be managed. Nevertheless, most towns and villages have persisted through generations of demographic decline, economic disconnection and service removal. This session will explore the theoretical challenges that the vulnerability and persistence of smaller settlements present to human and cultural geographers. It will also examine the ways in which people occupy these places, and what the prospects for future occupation might be. Critical issues may include (but not be limited to): the moral and ethical issues around facilitating, condoning, or preventing habitation of small towns and villages; changing relationships between villages and regional and global economies; ‘de-growth’ management strategies; research methods; and the lived experience of people who live in (permanently, seasonally, temporarily) these villages. We are also very interested to see how colleagues nationally and internationally interpret our deliberately vague representation of ‘small’ and ‘inland’.

Urban geography
  • Housing struggle and land justice in settler-colonial landscapes
  • Reshaping urban landscapes through social innovation and experimentation
  • Social reproduction and the urban process

Housing struggle and land justice in settler colonial landscapes

David Kelly and Libby Porter, Centre for Urban Research, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Geographies of dispossession and displacement are ubiquitously yet unevenly produced in processes of colonialism, urbanisation and housing/land speculation or re/development. Whilst urban housing struggle has been a long-standing correlate of social revolutionary potential (Engels 1872; Lefebvre 1970), how this intersects with Indigenous struggles over land rights and claims to place, is less developed. Today, differences in how people experience housing in Australia is recognised as the primary source of socio-economic inequality (Shaw 2019). Whilst the ‘housing crisis’ is a cyclical concern that permeates inter-generational discourse (Dufty-Jones 2018), for Indigenous people in settler-colonial places, the housing crisis began with colonisation (Watson 2007). Debate today about the crisis in affordability and justice is then overdetermined by white normativity, signalling the encroachment of dispossessory forces into ‘middle’ society. As such, it uncritically but implicitly points to a regime of value that routinely ignores the constancy of crisis for marginal identities in settler-colonial Australia and the way that housing has always performed the systematisation of settler futurity.

In this panel we call for papers that explore the conceptual and empirical connections between Indigenous housing struggles and land rights, and contemporary modes of housing inequality in settler-colonial places. We suggest that the modes of dispossession and eliminatory logics that Patrick Wolfe (2006) identified as underpinning settler-colonialism, are also present in varying degrees through which the state regulates Indigenous and non-Indigenous social difference. It is therefore prescient to interrogate the technologies through which this settler authority establishes itself in housing discourse and how it exercises sovereignty in the service of sameness. We welcome papers from activists and researchers that are exploring these provocations through the prism of housing and land. Areas of focus may include:

  • Southern Theories of housing struggle
  • Urban displacement and renewal
  • Neoliberalisation of Aboriginal housing
  • Conditionality in housing security
  • Socio-economic inequality and housing tenure
  • Racial-, ethnic- and class-based forced relocation
  • Territorial stigma of public and Aboriginal housing
  • Carceral geographies and asylum seeker accommodation
  • Accumulation by dispossession
  • Contemporary squattocracy


  • Dufty-Jones, R. (2018). A historical geography of housing crisis in Australia. Australian Geographer, 49:1, 5-23, DOI: 10.1080/00049182.2017.1336968
  • Engels, F. (1872). The Housing Question
  • Lefebvre, H. (1970) 2003. The Urban Revolution. Translated by R. Bonnono. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Shaw, K (2019). Climbing the walls: Seven ways to affordable housing. The Age, September 26, 2019. Retrieved from
  • Watson, I. (2007). Settled and Unsettled Spaces: Are We Free to Roam? In Sovereign Subjects:
  • Indigenous Sovereignty Matters, edited by A. Moreton- Robinson, 15–32. Crows Nest, NSW:
  • Allen and Unwin.
  • Wolfe, P. (2006). Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native. Journal of Genocide Research, 8:4, 387-409, DOI: 10.1080/14623520601056240

Reshaping urban landscapes through social innovation and experimentation

Inka Santala and Ville Santala, University of Wollongong

Cities are emerging as pivotal spaces of social innovation and experimentation, with rising expectations placed on their roles in driving just and sustainable societal change. Particularly in the spotlight are grassroots ‘solutions’ to local challenges that could be replicated and up-scaled, not only to other localities but to complement and replace contemporary urban structures and norms. However, the ‘progress’ that such solutions imply is not implicit. There is a need for research that better addresses the complexities of the social processes inherent in social innovation and experimentation: the values, aspirations and practices that underpin them and their implications for urban agency, citizenship and governance.

In this session, we invite theoretical and empirical contributions that critically investigate urban social innovation and experimentation, its creative practices, narratives of change and potential challenges that emerge. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • What are the urban challenges (or narratives of change) that drive social innovation and experimentation in Australian cities?
  • How do the values and motivations involved coalesce with practice to respond to these challenges?
  • What are the possibilities and challenges for scaling-up social innovation and experimentation?
  • How is urban social innovation and experimentation enabled and resisted in varied institutional and political scales?
  • What spaces of social innovation and experimentation exist in Australian cities that sit outside boundaries of contemporary economic and political regimes?
  • How are citizens framed through the discourse and practices of social innovation and experimentation?
  • Where relevant, how do postcapitalist or radically democratic ideals reflect on the motives and practices of urban social innovation and experimentation?

Social reproduction and urban process

Craig Lyons, University of Wollongong, Australia,Hilary Wilson, CUNY Graduate Center, USA

Nearly two decades ago, Neil Smith argued that the new global urbanism "increasingly expresses the impulses of capitalist production rather than social reproduction” (2002, p. 427), and is characterized by an increasing precarity of urban life. In recent years, geographers and others have examined the centrality of social reproduction not only to processes of capital accumulation - with their attendant ideologies of race and gender - but also as the grounds for building alternative and postcapitalist modes of socio-spatial (re)production (e.g. Hall 2016). While broad in geographical scale and scope (e.g. Dakar, Meehan and Strauss, 2015; Bhattacharya 2017), this body of work includes important discussions of the relationship between social reproduction and urban processes, including, for example, the relationship between housing and the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 (Briggs, 2017); the ambivalent role of urban planners in the “real estate state” (Stein, 2019); and the maintenance of urban infrastructures (Fredericks, 2015). With an interest in building on recent debates within urban geography, this session seeks to further explore how theorisations of social reproduction might help illuminate the nature and effects of a range of urban processes - such as gentrification, urban informality, and financialisation.

We welcome papers that offer theoretical, methodological, and empirical work along the following themes:

  • Settler colonialism, racial capitalism and social reproduction
  • Gender, social reproduction and urban processes
  • Property, planning, land use and social reproduction
  • Intersections of social reproduction and the production of urban space
  • Gentrification theory and social reproduction
  • Marketisation of social reproduction and urban processes
  • Deindustrialisation, urban decline and social reproduction
  • Social reproduction and urban politics
  • Labour and social reproduction


  • Tithi Bhattacharya (ed.) (2017) Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression, Introduction: Mapping Social Reproduction Theory, pp. 1-20.
  • Laura Briggs (2017) How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump. Oakland: University of California Press.
  • Dakar, K. Meehan and K. Strauss (eds.) (2015) Precarious Worlds: Contested Geographies of Social Reproduction.
  • Rebecca Jane Hall (2016) Reproduction and Resistance: an Anti-colonial Contribution to Social-Reproduction Feminism, Historical Materialism 24(2): 87-110.
  • Rosalind Fredericks (2015) Dirty Work in the City: Garbage and the Crisis of Social Reproduction in Dakar, K. Meehan and K. Strauss (eds.), Precarious Worlds: Contested Geographies of Social Reproduction, pp. 139-155.
  • Neil Smith (2002) New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy. Antipode, 34(3), 427-450.
  • Samuel Stein (2019) Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State. London: Verso Books.

  • Monday 6 July: Postgraduate presentations and development day
  • Tuesday 7 July: Day 1 of Conference: Academic papers, plenary addresses, welcome reception
  • Wednesday 8 July: Day 2 of Conference: Academic papers, plenary addresses , conference dinner and awards
  • Thursday 9 July: Day 3 of Conference: Academic papers, plenary addresses, closing

Travel to Armidale

Armidale is Anaiwan Country, and the Anaiwan share custodianship of these lands with the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti and Kamilaroi nations. 

We pay our respect to all of their Elders: past, present and emerging.

Welcome to Anaiwan Country

Daŋgana ndaga? Nyaŋa ndaga waŋan?

[How are you? What brings you here?]

Find out more about the Anaiwan Language Revival Program. If you would like to explore the region, visit the Armidale Tourism website.

Conference venue: UNE Business School at the University of New England (Armidale campus), Armidale NSW 2351, Australia.

Travel information: For travel to and around Armidale please consult Travelling To Armidale

UNE's Armidale campus

For more information about the Armidale Campus and Facilities browse the information provided at Campus Life.

Getting around Armidale — travel options to the campus

Taxis — Armidale Cabs offers a taxi service throughout Armidale and Uralla. The phone number is 131 008. A fare from the airport to the CBD or to the University is approximately $25 (estimate only).

Buses — a bus service runs from Armidale town to the UNE campus at $2 per trip. View the timetable.

Car — major car hire companies operate in Armidale from Armidale airport or in town. You'll need to pay for parking on the Armidale campus. Casual parking is $8 per day or $15 per week.

Cycling — there are bike hire options in town and fairly easy cycling along the creek to the university. Try contacting Armidale Bicycle Centre or Bicycle Central on Marsh.

Walking — Google suggests it is a 55-minute walk from town to the campus along the creek path or nearby roads.


Accommodation is available in Armidale or on campus. The campus is approximately 5km from the central bus stop in Armidale. There is a wide range of accommodation in Armidale to suit all budgets. Please consult the Armidale Tourist Information Centre for more information.

In Armidale town

City Centre Motel Inn in central Armidale

Rural Stay (B&B and self-contained accommodation options in Armidale)

Cotswold Gardens, 34 Marsh St,  +612 6772 8222

Quality Hotel Powerhouse, 31 Marsh St,  +612 6772 7788

Lindsay House, 128 Faulkner St, +612 6771 4554

Sandstock Motor Inn, 101 Dumaresq St,  +612 6772 9988

Abbotsleigh Inn, 76 Barney St,  +612 6772 9488

Near the airport (private transport recommended)

Moore Park Inn, 63 Moore Park Lane, +612 6772 2358

There is a wide range of accommodation in Armidale to suit all budgets. Please consult the Armidale Tourist Information Centre for more information.

Note: Registration is now on hold until further notice.

Early bird registration $480 (or $300 student rate)
Regular registration $550 (or $350 student rate)
Day registrations: $200
Conference dinner (optional extra): $70 (or $35 student rate)

For all conference enquiries, please contact:

Professor Neil Argent

Phone: +61 2 6773 2803