Recently Completed Projects
- Prosaics of interagency human service delivery: the potentialities of peopled, practised and caring states (Louise Askew)
- The regulation of labour rights in global supply networks (Tim Connor)
- Development discourse and the postcolonial challenge: the case of Fiji's aid industry (Paul Hodge)
- Making the Southern Ocean: exploring political and post-humanist geographies of marine space (Jill Sweeney)
Prosaics of interagency human service delivery: the potentialities of peopled, practised and caring states (Louise Askew)
This ARC funded project investigates current social policy settings in Australia through examining the emergence of interagency-based models of human service delivery and their positioning within neoliberal and post-neoliberal frames of governing. The research project takes a case study approach, focusing on a specific interagency strategy in the NSW Government aimed at the improved provision of services to communities and families with young children. Drawing on a governmental and contingent framework, the research takes an ethnographic view on state actors and their role in enacting a particular programme within the strategy. Rather than assuming the realisation of a neoliberalised mode of social governance, the research reveals the ways in which overarching rationalities and techniques of neoliberal governing are simultaneously reinforced, challenged or, indeed, absent from existing institutional policies and from the personal practices and understandings of state actors across different institutional and geographical contexts. The research promotes a view towards complexity, agency and contingency within the state which allows for alternative understandings and enactments of social governance.
The regulation of labour rights in global supply networks (Tim Connor)
This research is influenced by decentred, institutionalist characterisations of the firm and its regulation. The study contributes to debates regarding the future of organised labour, the ability of global civil society networks to influence the practices of powerful institutions, and the relationship between voluntary and state-sanctioned forms of corporate regulation. The focus of the research is on the anti-sweatshop movement’s campaigns targeting three transnational corporations (TNCs) which design and market sportswear—Nike, Reebok and Adidas. These three TNCs are members of the Fair Labour Association (FLA), a voluntary, non-state regulatory system negotiated between participating companies and a number of civil society organisations. The research assesses how the FLA’s processes, the companies’ own labour programs, and interventions by labour activists are combining to influence sportswear workers’ rights to form trade unions and bargain collectively. Methods for the research include interviews with Indonesian workers, FLA board members, company representatives and anti-sweatshop activists. The research also develops the potential for a ratings scheme to influence TNCs labour practices.
(In addition to his role as a researcher, Tim Connor works as labour rights advocacy coordinator for Oxfam Australia)
This research presents a postcolonial critique of development and academic discourses in the context of the South Pacific. Focusing on Fiji's aid industry, the study challenges the apparent inevitabilities underpinning an increasingly narrow and parochial donor ‘good governance’ agenda in the region. The research confronts geography’s sojourns in, and on, the ‘Third World’ laying bare a number of epistemological and methodological inconsistencies. Having exposed various definitional rigidities produced by these discourses, the work emphasises the decentred and nuanced meanings and ways of envisioning ‘development’ enabled by postcolonial sensibilities.The thesis has three primary aims. First is to highlight the constraining and enabling aspects of discourses. The thesis emphasises the productive features of development discourse; its framing attributes, fragility and transformative potential, drawing on the activities and intentions of NGOs and donor organisations operating in Fiji and throughout the South Pacific. Second is to draw attention to the way ‘identities’ form and shape aid relations in the country. Again, utilising examples from Fiji's aid industry, the research foregrounds the centrality of ‘traditions’, religion, gender and ethnicity in ‘development’ and critiques their virtual silence in donor policies and programmes in the region. Third is to ‘unpack’ the way academia intervenes in development settings; emphasising that any reflection on the relevance of research will inevitably involve taking methodology seriously and posing fundamental questions about why we are there in the first place. Advocating more than a methodological revisionism, this research argues that ‘doing development differently’ will involve reorienting development relations and embarking on a far-reaching mission to subvert development’s self-evidence while proposing and supporting collaborative efforts that explore negotiated and newly emerging cultural forms.
Making the Southern Ocean: exploring political and post-humanist geographies of marine space (Jill Sweeney)
International conflict over whaling has become a persistent, familiar note in the cacophony of daily global media. So, too, has its presence been felt in one of the primary sites of disagreement, the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. With the increasing attention this ocean is experiencing, and the myriad ways in which it is being enrolled in competing discourses and performances, it has become vitally important that we further develop our understanding of this space. This research aims to delve into the relationships to be found there, examining the Southern Ocean as a social, political space playing a sometimes-overlooked role in shaping our social relations. Furthermore, it brings the ocean itself forward in highlighting the multiple agencies which inform the whaling case study, from campaigner to researcher to whales and water as active agents. Focusing on themes of sovereignty, place-making and animal geographies, it rethinks the notion of oceans as empty spaces, and draws on post-humanist literatures to read the Southern Ocean as a dynamic, lived and more-than-human world.