Rein-stating Power: Decarbonisation, Decentralisation and Digitalisation in Electricity

Sangeetha Chandra-Shekeran


Australia is currently undergoing a major transformation in the electricity sector involving decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation. This talk focuses on the central role of the state in the making, managing and unmaking of markets for electricity. Sangeetha will show how markets are historically and socially produced; how the state enables and limits markets to achieve social and political-economic goals; and the uncontrolled effects of these state interventions. Our understanding of how states govern markets remains impoverished so long as we continue to ignore the actual realms of state intervention and selectively focus attention on self-regulated aspects of markets. The conditions under which the state intervenes for social and environmental protection provide us with insights as to the spatial limits of commodifying society all the way down. It also shows how governing in and through markets is fraught and eludes the control of any single entity due to the complexities and interdependencies of market society.

Socioecological change in a feudal island state

Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick


The transition from neoliberalism to neofeudalism is well underway in most western societies. The diversion of resources to an undemocratic elite has not been as blatant since the 19th century, social mobility is stagnating, surveillance capitalism mines our data to exercise social control over our consumption, and care for people and the rest of nature is ordinary to the extent that species and ecosystem loss are exponentiating, along with human poverty and homelessness. The island State of Tasmania has not fully escaped a feudal condition since the violent and sanctimonious attempted genocide of the Palawa people of Tasmania by the British commanders, their convicts and the yeomen who stole their land. There have been waves of elites, each associated with forms of social and environmental modification. The yeomen, the miners, the dam-builders, the foresters and the tourism/real estate establishment successively formed powerful elites that transmogrified the rest of nature in distinctive and cumulative ways, and, to varying degrees, subdued the masses. The current elite has subverted the partially successful resistance to the environmental harm caused by previous elites by turning nature into a commodity to be gifted to themselves, by vitiating legal means of resistance, and by creating a new underclass. Geographers might consider subverting the new paradigm, as the old one dies, by conceptualising and implementing environmental and social probity in a process of emergent resistance.

Landscape Painting in Colonial Tasmania: a visual terra nullius?

Dr Gregory Lehman

The University of Melbourne


Considerable attention has been paid to the artist John Glover’s depiction of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and his paintings have become emblematic of the colonial landscape of Van Diemen’s Land. However, Glover’s landscape paintings were made after removal of Aboriginal people from their homelands during the Black War that persisted in the colony from 1824 to 1831. To date there has been no recognition that prior to Glover’s work, Aborigines were almost completely absent from Tasmanian landscape painting or portraiture.

Greg will examine the work of artists who documented the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land from 1808 to 1831, a record of colonial development that profoundly influences our understanding of Australian history and geography. He raises new questions about the unexplained absence of Aborigines in their VDL views at a time when Palawa were a regular presence in the lives of colonists, and an increasing source of conflict as they resisted British settlement.

Was exclusion from the visual record part of a deliberate effort to minimise the impact of the Black War on economic development? Was colonial art used to effectively bolster the idea of terra nullius?

Philosophical Explorations in Geography: Notes from the Field

Jeff Malpas

Despite Immanuel Kant’s role as the pioneer of modern academic geography, the engagement by contemporary philosophers with the intellectual landscape of geography is slight. Contemporary geographers, on the other hand, seem to make frequent forays into philosophical territory, often remapping geography itself in ways that owes much to philosophical ideas and approaches. As a result, many different pathways have opened up in geography in recent years, pathways that emerge, converge, and diverge, and that have also give rise to a complex and heavily inscribed landscape. As a philosopher who often finds himself in that landscape, trying to find a way into and across the territory, I have been involved in trying to come to grips with geographer’s own mappings as well as to work out my own. Having set up my own small base camp in the geographical foothills, these brief notes from the field aim to identify some of the landmarks that seem to me to make geography so important a landscape for contemporary thinking, but also to show why many of geography’s own mappings of that landscape, especially when they draw on the previous working of philosophers, seem often to go awry. 

Royal Geographical Society archive launch, presented by Wiley

Wiley has partnered with The Royal Geographical Society (including IBG) to digitise and conserve the two-million-piece collection spanning over 500 years of travel and exploration, research and thought.

 This session discusses the Wiley relationship with the RGS, the digitisation process and archive content.

 The massive primary source archive offers students and researchers immediate access to the RGS collection, bringing the work of some of the foremost geographers and explorers to life, from the Antarctic discoveries of Scott and Shackleton, to the pioneering work of Livingstone, Stanley, Hunt and Hillary among others.

Paternalism gone ridiculous? Encounters with risk-averse ethics committees in doing participatory research with children with and without disabilities

Dr Lisa Stafford 

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD


Ethics is a critical frame guiding researchers to ensure participants are researched appropriately and respectfully. Researchers advocating for participant-led or co research with marginalised groups know too well the significance of ethical considerations to ensure research is in the best interest of participants not researchers. My research approach is no different. For over the past decade, I have been researching children’s participation and disabled childhood geographies. My approach is underpinned by core ethical values and participatory-child-and-ability-friendly principles and processes. However, as my research is often at the intersection of children and disability, I address two specific groups within the NHMRC chapter 4 – children and cognitive impairment. Being at this intersection, I constantly undergo committee level review which is important. However, in more recent times I have noted growing interrogation – where questions are less about the ethics of the approach and more about risk aversion. This presentation presents two cases of recent committee level review to raise discussion on the growing occurrence of paternalism underpinned by Ableism and Adultism thinking, and the need to advocate for change so specific groups are not marginalised in these processes or even excluded from research because of the current culture of ethics committees.

Dr Lisa Stafford, is an Lecturer in School of PHSW and a 2019 ARC DECRA Fellow. Her research is in inclusive communities, disabled childhood geographies, and participatory process to hear the most maginalised ‘voices’ in community and research practices

Mapping Possible and Preferable Energy Futures: Geographic Challenges

Dr Sangeetha Chandrashekeran


The polarisation of political debate around decarbonising Australia’s electricity sector has obscured a significant development: the actually existing, if unexpected, convergence of ideas around the role of the state in the political economy of energy. After years of market efficiency nostrums, politicians are now engaged in re-regulation but are doing so without situating policies in a broader spatio-temporal analysis. Key political and economic questions about where existing and future value streams originate need to be foregrounded. With the shift to free energy sources and proliferation of smart meter technologies  what does the new frontier of extraction look like and how do we defend against enclosure of our (energy) data commons? Can we move beyond the politics of ‘affordability’ to understand the socio-spatial nuances of renewable technology uptake and the contradictions between ecological repair and social equity? And how do we take account of the wide band of uncertainty surrounding our energy-economy and consider energy futures where continuous growth might no longer be business as usual?

 This lecture challenges geographers to engage with the messy and conflictual nature of socio-environmental change that is underway. In particular, to consider how we as researchers, embedded both in this carbon civilisation and its institutions of knowledge, can (and cannot) respond.

Hobart as an Antarctic City: Thinking Beyond the “Gateway”

Prof Elizabeth Leane2, Dr Hanne Nielsen1, Dr Chloe Lucas3, A/Prof.Juan Francisco Salazar4, Ms Doita Datta1

1School of Humanities, University Of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

3School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia

4Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Sydney. NSW, Australia


The five so-called “Antarctic Gateway Cities” of Hobart (Australia), Christchurch (New Zealand), Punta Arenas (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina) and Cape Town (South Africa) share a geographic proximity to the far south. They are recognized as the main international points of departure to and from the Antarctic region, as all significant engagement with Antarctica currently goes through these cities. However, this status is both politically fragile and economically uneven. The “Antarctic Cities” Linkage Project, of which this presentation forms a part, examines ways in which these cities might act not just as thoroughfares but also as urban centres that embody the cosmopolitan values associated with Antarctica itself: international cooperation, scientific innovation and ecological protection.

This presentation focusses particularly on Hobart. At a time when state and federal governments are financially and rhetorically reinforcing this city’s Gateway status, we report on a survey of citizens’ own sense of connectedness to the Antarctic region. We explore the implications of the survey results for current plans to enhance Hobart’s connections with the region to its south and suggest how the city’s Antarctic identity may be further fostered.

Enabling marine ecosystem-based management: Is New Zealand’s legal framework up to the task?

Dr Alison Greenaway1, Raewyn Peart2, Lara Taylor1

1Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Auckland, New Zealand

2Environmental Defence Society, Auckland, New Zealand


Ecosystem-based management has been proposed as a more effective way of addressing complex environmental challenges in the marine environment. The NZ Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has recently proposed seven principles to underpin marine ecosystem-based management in New Zealand reflecting international experience and the essential role of Māori in New Zealand society. We review the extent to which the current legal framework enables these principles to be applied in the New Zealand context. There is an uneven approach across New Zealand’s legislative landscape with some important areas requiring rationalisation, modernisation and strengthening. One way to achieve this, without undertaking fundamental reform, would be to provide a national statutory framework for marine spatial planning in order to provide a stronger framework for the application of the proposed EBM principles.


Dr Greenaway attends to co-production of sustainable development knowledge and practice. She facilitates and evaluates processes which foster collective deliberation to address complex issues. Alison is currently exploring technologies for invasive species management; implementation of large scale biodiversity restoration; pest control across public-private boundaries; and marine ecosystem based management.


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