$2 million in ARC funding will support five research projects at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.
Achieving improved empowerment of Indigenous communities in Australia is an important goal for Alfred Deakin Professor Yin Paradies, Chair in Race Relations and Deputy-Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI).
Professor Paradies has been awarded a Discovery Indigenous 2018 project award – a first for Deakin – in an outstanding round of Australian Research Council scheme awards. ADI researchers were awarded a record-breaking $2 million in funding through the scheme.
In addition to Professor Paradies’ award, Dr Victoria Stead received a prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). ADI Director Professor Fethi Mansouri, Deputy-Director Shahram Akbarzadeh, Dr Rebecca Barlow and Dr Yamini Narayanan were all awarded Discovery Projects.
Other ADI researchers, Professor Greg Barton, Dr Anna Halafoff and Dr Joanna Cruickshank, are participating on externally-led Discovery Projects, also announced in the round, while ADI’s Professor Tim Winter was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship earlier this year.
Professor Mansouri said the funding success reflected the investment and commitment by Deakin University in research into the humanities and social sciences, as well as ADI’s unique development as a research institute of the highest calibre.
“This success shows our commitment to research is of the highest standard and of immediate relevance to our communities and societies. ADI’s support for Early Career Researchers and commitment to excellence is also critical to our success. We work hard to ensure we have the best support schemes and peer review mechanisms in place for our researchers, but, above all, we try to create an inclusive, supportive environment for our researchers.”
Improving the rights of Indigenous Australians
Professor Yin Paradies will work with ADI’s Dr Victoria Stead and Dr Samantha Balaton Chrimes on a four-year project investigating how Indigenous people are recognised and their rights provided for by various bodies, including governments.
“Issues such as the constitutional recognition debate and the move to treaties in Victoria and other states demonstrate a shift in societal thinking and indicate ways that we can improve outcomes for Indigenous people,” said Professor Paradies.
His team will develop case studies that reveal relationships and interactions that affect the rights and recognition of Indigenous people in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Kenya. These will focus on interactions with governments, corporations and other transnational organisations.
“We are seeking to understand how we can improve the capacity of Indigenous people to negotiate with more powerful bodies in a legal and policy context. We hope to enhance the capacities of Indigenous peoples to negotiate – and the ability of Australian policy makers, development workers and corporations to engage effectively and ethically in such negotiations.”
Professor Paradies is an Aboriginal-Anglo-Asian Australian from the Northern Territory. He has worked in Indigenous health research since 1995 and has received a range of awards, including a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the Wakaya people, who originate from land below the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Cultural influences on migrant youth
Professor Fethi Mansouri will collaborate with Professor Lori Beaman (University of Ottawa) and Dr Serena Hussain (Coventry University) on a comparative project that aims to challenge theoretical and policy debate around migrant youth and their access to transcultural capital.
“Transcultural capital refers to those skills, resources and knowledge accessed through multiple cultural repertoires. The project will examine how these understandings can affect young people’s ability to instigate, negotiate and maintain sociocultural connections locally, translocally, and transnationally.”
The project is international in its design and will be undertaken through a comparative study of three highly diverse urban contexts: Melbourne, Birmingham and Toronto.
Horticultural labour in Australia
Dr Victoria Stead’s DECRA research aims to strengthen understandings of race and labour relations in Australia’s horticultural industry. It builds on work currently being finalised as part of her Alfred Deakin Post-Doctoral Fellowship.
“The postdoctoral work I’ve been doing over the past two years has pointed to strongly racialised practices around labour in the horticultural industry, which is facing lots of challenges related to its seasonal workforce. It seemed to me, there was a pressing need to understand how race structures labour relations in the horticultural industry and what implications that has for the workers, farmers and wider communities in rural Australia.”
The project builds on her long interest in issues around land, place and connection to land, including in the Pacific region.
“With Pacific Islanders travelling to Australia to work in horticulture, I wanted to take some of the questions I’ve been asking about land and place in the Pacific, and ask those same questions in the rural Australian environments where Pacific Islanders are now working,” she said.
“The research speaks to real world issues and significant contemporary challenges. At the same time, it also opens up a lot of interesting intellectual questions around race, belonging, Australian identity and national narratives, including in rural and regional places.”
How Iranian women are influencing policy
ADI’s Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh and Dr Rebecca Barlow will build on their extensive body of work on Iranian civil society to look at how women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) work to influence policy change in Iran.
“Women’s NGOs are an important force for democracy in Iran and have been working to challenge institutional power for many years.”
“But the environment remains very sensitive. The four-year project will look at the strategies employed by women’s NGOs to empower women in civil society. It will help us understand the factors that contribute to improving women’s status in Iran, and other Muslim contexts more broadly.
“By deepening insight into the drivers of change at the grassroots, this project will enhance the Australian government’s capacity to foster ties and engage effectively with Iran in the pursuit of cultural opening and progressive change.”
Reimagining sustainable cities in India
ADI’s former DECRA scholar, Dr Yamini Narayanan, with Professor Jennifer Wolch from UC Berkeley and Dr Maan Barua from the University of Oxford, will lead a team examining nonhuman animals as critical stakeholders of urban societies – not merely ecologies – in India.
“Normally nonhuman animals are not considered stakeholders in city planning, but in this project we are looking at them as members of society. We wanted to re-imagine sustainable, biodiverse Indian cities of the future as zoöpolises, a concept that Professor Wolch developed in 1998. Our project will in fact coincide with the 20-year anniversary of the field of Animal Geographies itself!”
Dr Narayanan said biodiversity was critical to survival, but with rapid urbanisation worldwide, especially in developing cities such as India, biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate.
“As cities push into forestland, animals, including those, which usually avoid human contact, are increasingly encountering humans due to loss of habitats or foraging sites,” she said.
“For this reason, the project will focus on the everyday realities of selected wild species, including leopards, elephants, pangolins, a wide range of reptiles, commensal species that share habitats with humans, but do not typically interfere such as avians or even turtle species, and commoditised species such as those designated ‘livestock’ such as bovines, chickens and goats, in six ecologically diverse, rapidly growing, medium-sized cities in India.”
The project builds on Dr Narayanan’s DECRA research, which focussed on the urban side of sustainability.
“We recognise that successful cities are diverse,” she said. “This project expands the definition of diversity and pluralism from multiculturalism, or gender diversity, to include multispecies diversity as well.”