Record ARC funding result for ADI researchers
Researchers from the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) have been awarded a record breaking $2million in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) 2018 Discovery scheme.
ADI Deputy Director Professor Yin Paradies with Dr Victoria Stead and Dr Samantha Balaton Chrimes will lead Deakin University’s first ever Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous project award, Dr Victoria Stead also received a prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) while ADI Director Professor Fethi Mansouri, Deputy Director Shahram Akbarzadeh, Dr Rebecca Barlow and Dr Yamini Narayanan will lead Discovery Projects.
ADI’s Professor Greg Barton, Dr Anna Halafoff and Dr Joanna Cruickshank are participating on externally-led Discovery Projects.
Professor Fethi Mansouri said the funding 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.
“It shows our commitment to research which is of the highest standards and of immediate relevance to our communities and societies, a commitment which has been recognised by the ARC,” he said.
“It was good to also see we were successful in more than one scheme.”
Professor Mansouri cited the Institute’s support for Early Career Researchers and commitment to excellence as critical to its 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 which enables all of us to submit competitive research proposals of the highest order.”
The funding builds on the awarding of a Future Fellowship to Professor Tim Winter earlier in the year.
Professor Mansouri, with two international partner investigators (Professor Lori Beaman from University of Ottawa, Canada and Dr Serena Hussain from Coventry University, United Kingdom) will lead an exciting innovative comparative project which aims to challenge theoretical and policy debate around migrant youth and their access to trans-cultural capital.
“Transcultural capital refers to those skills, resources and knowledge accessed through multiple cultural repertoires,” Professor Mansouri explained.
“The project will examine how this can affect young people’s ability to instigate, negotiate and maintain socio-cultural connections locally, trans-locally, and trans-nationally.
“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.”
An excited Dr Victoria Stead said it felt slightly surreal to receive funding for a prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) and a Discovery Indigenous Project with Professor Yin Paradies and Dr Samantha Balaton-Chrimes.
“I am just really excited,” she said. “It will be a very busy and full three years.”
Dr Stead’s DECRA 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 last 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,” she said.
“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.”
Dr Stead said the project built on her long interest in issues around land, place and connection to land, including in the Pacific.
“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.”
Dr Stead said what excited her about this research was that it spoke to real world issues and significant contemporary challenges.
“At the same time, it also opens up a lot of very interesting intellectual questions around race, belonging, Australian identity and national narratives, including in rural and regional places.”
Using settler-colonial (Australia) and the formerly colonised countries of Kenya and Papua New Guinea as case studies, ADI’s Professor Yin Paradies, Dr Victoria Stead and Dr Samantha Balaton-Chrimes will look to gain a deeper understanding of claims of recognition.
The four-year project will investigate 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.
The case studies will 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,” he said.
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,” Dr Barlow explained.
“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.
“The project will help us understand the factors that contribute to improving women's status in Iran, and other Muslim contexts more broadly.
Dr Barlow said Iran is a major player in international relations.
“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.”
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 which will examine nonhuman animals as critical stakeholders of urban societies – not merely ecologies - in India.
“Normally nonhuman animals are not looked at as stakeholders in city planning, but in this project we are looking at them as members of society,” Dr Narayanan said.
“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 was disappearing at an alarming rate.
“As cities push into forestland, animals, including those that 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, as well as commoditised species such as those designated ‘livestock’ such as bovines, chickens, 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.”