Gender and Cultural Studies -- Postgraduate projects

Click on the names below to see current and past research projects and publications for postgraduate students in Gender and Cultural Studies.

Current projects

Julia Broom Emilie Jervis Natalie Tao  
Kurt Bugden Maria Koleth Sara Tompkins  
Hysin-Yi Cheng Lina Nope-Williams Scott Webster  
Christen Cornell Kate O'Halloran Karen-Anne Wong  
Kerryn Drysdale Paul Priday Annie Wu  

Past projects

Inez Gershonowitz Jessica Kean Li Meng
Liam Grealy Tim Laurie Shams Quader  
Luz Hincapié Nancy Lee Nikki Savvides
Maria Elena Indelicato Remy Low Zitong Qiu
Sophie Johnson Wei Miao  

Julia Broom
The Labouring Subject in the Contemporary Indian Novel

This thesis explores the figure of the labouring subject in three Indian novels. It maps aspects of contemporary labour subordinated to regimes of flexible accumulation which structure the global economy, and in which the Indian worker is increasingly enmeshed. Here the neoliberal view of citizenship – that would have every citizen the entrepreneur of his or her own future – is examined in relation to three forms of labour as they are represented in the novels on which this thesis focuses. To this end it examines modalities of labour associated with: (i) the begging industry as portrayed in A Fine Balance (Mistry 1995); (ii) the outsourcing industry as characterised in The White Tiger (Adiga 2008); and, (iii) the undocumented worker as illustrated in The Inheritance of Loss (Desai 2006).

Kurt Bugden
Butterflies in The Stomach: Fluid Feelings, Feeling Fluids

This thesis explores the psychosomatic relationship between feelings – particularly of lust, disgust, disorientation and anxiety – and bodily fluids, their movements, secretions, pulsations, ebbs and flows. I argue that this relationship is psychosomatic because feelings and fluids are neither purely of the flesh nor “divined” by consciousness but are, rather, mingled and render one another intelligible. Drawing largely on the work of Alphonso Lingis, Michel Serres and Elisabeth Wilson, I aim to get at the pulsating heart of feeling, to probe the queasy gut, to make sense of the perspiratory pores and the weeping eyes, to attune to the nervously full bladder. In the first section of the thesis, I focus on “queer” feelings of disorientation and anxiety in relation to experiences of sweating, breathing and those peculiar experiences of feeling butterflies in the stomach. The sensations of butterflies in the stomach exemplify how feelings often mix with, infuse and can distort one another. The weight and specificity of a feeling is, in this sense, always situational. In the fourth and fifth chapters, I turn my attention to the headiness of specific bodily fluids. With an emphasis on breath and sweat, I explore the ways in which bodies feel, and are effectuated, moved or “thrown” by certain aromas and stenches. I call this process “smelling feeling”. Geared towards the lived experiences of queer people, these chapters mark an attempt to extend and supplement the project of queer phenomenology, and to further explore the ways in which non-visual phenomena can both inspire and enervate erotic feeling. In the second section of the thesis I consider more thoroughly erotic feelings of lust and their intelligibility through psychosomatic processes of salivation, perspiration, tumescence, lubrication and olfaction. The final chapter offers a study of the erotics of urine, its texture, variable aromas and its erotic transaction as a “queer” sexual practice. Throughout the thesis I draw on work carried out in the scholarly fields of phenomenology (and indeed queer phenomenology), queer theory, affect theory, the biological sciences, sensory theory or, in general, studies of embodiment. I also draw on narrations of lived experience (through both prose and poetry) and empirical research done within “queer” communities.

Hysin-Yi Cheng
Saving Lives in Wasted Places: the Practice of Volunteers in Public Animal Shelters in Taiwan

The project focuses on the ways that volunteers help animals in public animal shelters in Taiwan. In the public's view, the remote locations, poorly-maintained environment and the high rate of euthanasia render the shelter as the last resort for stray animals. Employing Michel Foucault's idea 'discipline' and Michel De Certeau's idea 'tactics', the project examines the practices developed in the shelter, particularly focusing on how volunteers make changes in the limit of institutional rules. First, the project examines the shelter norm resulting from the policy of stray animal control. Second, the project examines the motivations of volunteers and the challenges brought to them by the shelter norm. Third, the research examines how the volunteer community influence the institutional culture.

Christen Cornell
Cultural Space and the Post-socialist Global City: Beijing’s contemporary art districts

My thesis is a study of the relationship between art and space in post-reform Beijing, arguing – after Lefebvre and Soja – that this relationship is both productive and mutually constitutive. It does this in a series of case studies, each one mapping a different historical stage in the development of contemporary Chinese art and its relation to Beijing’s post-reform urbanisation. The first considers the genesis of ‘contemporary Chinese art’ in the outsider painters’ villages, of the 1990s; the second, the commercialisation of the art district 798, and its consequent endorsement as a ‘creative industries precinct’ by the Beijing civic government in the mid-2000s; the third, the current transformation of 798 from a transnational art community to a performative space for China’s new middle-class taste cultures; and the fourth, the development of new spaces for artistic production online. For me, tracing the relationship between art communities and space in post-1979 Beijing is like tracing a dance of co-option and reinvention – a dynamic and formative rapport in which both are continually redefined. Outsider spaces in the 1990s become popular globally; the state then incorporates these spaces into discourses of nation-building; but then artists manage to carve out new spaces and redefinitions of art that challenge systems of governmentality once more.

Kerryn Drysdale
Invested communities: an examination of Sydney's drag king scene

My research looks at the 'communities of investment' in Sydney's drag king scene to interrogate how different 'flows' or 'layers' of desire both constitute and represent the various participants within it. Rather than looking at drag kinging as a practice, informed by performance studies and queer theories that see participants divided into performer and audience, I use a cultural studies approach to reposition it as a scene. My ethnographic research design, including auto-ethnography and group discussion analysis, allows me to trace the investments throughout the lifecycle of this scene - from its early emergence, through its peak of participation and its eventual demise. This research aims to show how different participants are invested in drag kinging, and how these different investments intersect to produce this drag king scene.


  • Drysdale, K. (2014). "When Scenes Fade: Methodological lessons from Sydney's drag king culture", Cultural Studies, Online, 1-18

Emilie Jervis
Modern Experience, Textuality, and Feminism

My thesis looks at sex and gender with relation to the central question of experience in theories of modern Western subjectivity. This work looks particularly at twentieth century literary and critical-cultural texts which can be considered part of an avant-garde tradition. It also looks at feminist writing and aesthetic theories of modernity to understand how experience works textually with relation to the “feminine” and to the politics of women’s “lived-experience”. This thesis asks how experience might be theorised from an aesthetic and creative feminist perspective, how this relates to the question of experience posed by philosophers and male-writers in the twentieth century. What “new” perspectives or critical-opening can be offered through this conversation of textual experience and modern identity/subjectivity? More recent textual examples are taken from popular and art-house film and I ask how experience is currently informed by conventions of cinematic representations of sex/gender and female creativity.


  • Dalton, J and Severino, E. 'The Position is Arranged: Sade and Abu Ghraib', in Beckman, F & Blake, C (eds), Angelaki Journal of Theoretical Humanities: Shadows of Cruelty, Sadism, Masochism and the Philosophical Muse (Part Two), 2009, Volume 14, Issue 3, Routledge: London.

Maria Koleth
Popular Development, Planetarity and the Ethical Turn

In the last decade, development has become a popular tourist activity, particularly for young people embarking on study or career breaks. It is now a desirable past time to travel to economically disadvantaged regions for short periods of time and volunteer or undertake immersion with development and conservation organisations. This so-called development tourism is one of the more contentious forms of popular development but also one of the most rapidly expanding. In a field traditionally made up of experts dispensing advice to ‘Third World’ communities, development tourism is enacting a significant change. While attempts have been made to recognise the importance of vernacular practices of this kind, this project addresses the lack of analyses in the field, which seek to move development ethics away from a limiting consensus over human development paradigms towards an understanding of the materiality of its practice on a more-than-human, planetary scale. Drawing on the tradition of postcolonial thought in development, this project poses a multi-sited ethnography of development tourism as a response to the challenge of a neo-materialist planetarity. The multi-sited ethnography includes interviews with 22 development tourists in Sydney as well as participant observation in development tourism programs in Peru and Cambodia.

Lina Nope-Williams
The Construction and Reconstruction of Gender and Identity through Food in Indonesia

My study is focused on the question whether food has influenced on the changes in attitudes towards the understanding of gender and identity in the contemporary Indonesian society. This extends to the query whether food influences the process of family unification and structure along with the social changes. Ultimately, the enquiry is whether food has significant roles in the changes in construction and reconstruction of gender and identity in Indonesia. Factors such as globalization and economic growth contribute to the socio-cultural changes which may bring changes in and re-negotiation of the norms and ways in which people communicate with their families and members of their social circles. The discussion of gender, identity and socio-cultural changes in relation to food consumption and food habits can be viewed from Indonesian traditional and modern perspectives. Particular trends have emerged among Indonesians that have had consequences for their traditional food patterns. The transformation of gender and identity structures may either be a result of the changes in society or a response to the changes.


  • Nope, C.Y. 'Jerat Kapitalisme atas Perempuan'. Marselina, 2005, Yogyakarta: Resist Book

Kate O'Halloran
The ethics of queer anti-normativity

This thesis charts the ethical agenda of U.S.-based queer theory from its inception, exemplified in key figures such as Eve Sedgwick, Gayle Rubin, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, to its institutionalisation as an anti-normative and/or anti-social academic discipline. Engaging with some of its most canonical and influential texts and figures in Michael Warner, Jack Halberstam and Lee Edelman, the thesis suggests that the anti-normative and anti-social tenor of these works becomes problematic in translation to an activist and/or ‘community’ setting. I investigate, for example, some of the key sources of contemporary conflict within local queer communities, to suggest that in practice, queer anti-normativity has become an imperative that betrays the anti-identitarian and ethical beginnings of the discipline. In particular, this thesis is concerned by queer’s constitutive distance from ordinariness, from so-called less radical pasts and from feminist concerns. I argue that in practice, the capacity to satisfy queer (anti-)norms is related closely to privilege, which begs the question of who ‘justifiably deserves’ to be, and who is currently, represented by queer scholarship and/or communities. Key case studies analysed include: Queer Collaborations (QC), Querelle magazine, the Feminist Futures conference (Melbourne 2011), SlutWalk and the Sydney queer cabaret scene (via strip night Pirate Jenny’s). Each case study is explored through the lens of one of three key queer theoretical preoccupations: ‘identity’, ‘temporality’ and ‘community’.

Paul Priday
Masculinities in Transnational Advertising Agencies

An empirical gender study into masculinities in transnational business. The selected sites are transnational advertising agencies in Sydney, New Delhi and Shanghai and the men who work in them. The importance of transnational business as an institutional location for research into men has been recognised and an understanding of institutions is regarded as important for an understanding of masculinities. This study adopts a socio-cultural perspective viewing advertising agencies as sites that professionally specialize in manufacturing and trading affect in support of brands. The men who work in them act as affect brokers and are involved in the ongoing conscious manufacturing of self that is then distributed through self-managed media. The research is conducted using participant observation as an ethnographic methodology combined with in-depth individual interviews.

Natalie Tao
The narratives of Thai migrant women with intercultural relationships in Australian context

This project investigates the lived experiences of Thai migrant women who are or have been in international relationships with Caucasian-Australian citizens. It aims to explore and understand the different factors involved in those women’s decision-making for international migration. I try to challenge the existing literature which often limits understandings of women’s migration decisions to economic bases. Furthermore, by analysing the blog discourses, I would like to find out the culturally-embedded stereotypes and assumptions that construct Thai women’s images and their relationships with foreigners. It will be used to compare with my interviewees’ narratives on their self-identity and their relationships with Caucasian-Australian partners. The performances and negotiations that migrant women make in the roles of daughters, wives, mothers and workers after migration are often still affected by the social and cultural structures of their countries of origin as well as the country of destination. Therefore, this project examines how those migrant women develop strategies to deal with a range of relationships they encounter in their daily lives, whether the intimate relations with their foreign partners, relations with their original families and partner’s families, relations with other women, including Australian women and those from the same diasporic group.

Sara Tompkins
Black-Jewish Relations in Contemporary American Popular Culture

African Americans and Jewish Americans have had a unique relationship throughout history, characterised by both identification and conflict. Cornel West has argued for ‘the profoundly Jewish nature of modern African-American peoples as well as the profoundly Black nature of modern American Jewry’ (1996:221). My project investigates how traces of this history and sense of mutuality appear in contemporary media and popular culture. I am interested in looking at the ways blacks and Jews have been paired together in the American national imaginary and the cultural and political effects of this relationality. The central aim of my work is to examine how black-Jewish relations function as a tool through which the complexities of Jewish American identity are explored and negotiated. My project has a particular focus on issues around racial performance, especially in terms of satire and appropriation. It will include a number of case studies on figures including Barack Obama, Sarah Silverman and John Safran in order to investigate the ways in which racial and ethnic differences are articulated through the lens of black-Jewish relations.

Scott Webster
"Facts on the Ground": Domicide and the Production of Space in Palestine

'Domicide’…"the deliberate destruction of home by human agency in pursuit of specified goals, which causes suffering to the victims" (Porteous and Smith 2001: 12).

My research apprehends domicide as a tool of spatial production in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and analyses its effects on-the-ground. Domicide has been a long-running feature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its “specified goals” are described as: maintaining a Jewish majority in all areas to remain within Israel’s national borders, annexing territory considered desirable for ideological and alleged security reasons, and eliminating physical evidence of Palestinian inhabitation. Through creating these “facts on the ground”, domicide in Israel and OPT attempts to actualise the vision of historic Palestine as “a land without people, for a people without land”.

However these arguments, without rejecting their significance as critiques of state injustice, contain assumptions about the production of space which fail to grasp the complexities of spatial experience. Like the colonial ‘imaginative geographies’ that underpin these domicidal policies, they create homogenised abstractions that gloss over the densities of “lived space” (Harker 2009: 320). Through ethnographic observations of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions' (ICAHD) rebuilding camp, an analysis is developed critiquing these reductive tendencies in describing Palestinian spaces only in terms of ‘Absence’ or ‘Occupation’. It will be argued that a landscape of plurality materialised whereby Palestinian geography was experienced as marked by, but not always seen through, the Occupation. Moreover attention will be drawn to this phenomenon as a productive effect of the act of domicide itself.

Karen-Anne Wong
Child's pose: Children's Yoga, Embodiment and Relationality

My research is an ethnographic study of children's yoga practices, investigating how relationships are embodied. I have conducted focus groups, interviews and/or questionnaires with approximately 60 child and adult participants. Being a children's yoga teacher myself, I have also conducted in-depth participant observation. I also filmed much of this fieldwork, and have created a short ethnographic film representing practitioners and their views on yoga. I am using this data to analyse how child yoga practitioners in this study negotiate relationships with themselves and others. The relationship with self is considered an embodied one, as in this context, children are learning specific bodily techniques which alter their understandings of their own capabilities. However, the discourse of the class also posits participants in relationship with imagined versions of the self, such as the future 'adult' self. Some of the most utilised imagined selves are those of animals, as in the case of downward-facing-dog, fish, cat and dolphin pose (to name a few). I examine how these relationships are becomings enacted through, and as a result of the body. Relationships with others that I examine include that of peers, the teacher and the surrounding space, or institutional circumstance. Here I question how the body affects hierarchical social structures and degrees of power.

Annie Wu
Changing Fortunes, Changing Identities? Social Identities and Vietnamese Wives and Mothers in Taiwan

This project is primarily concerned with the changing fortunes and changing identities of Vietnamese women who immigrate to Taiwan for the purposes of marriage to Taiwanese nationals. It focuses on the voices of those women, whether they feel well and happy or not after their relocation. Thus it is engaged with the impacts of the intercultural marriage phenomenon between Taiwanese men and Vietnamese women in Taiwan, particularly the impacts on the women themselves and their families, as the women describe them. The project examines only a part of the contemporary movement of women around Asia and East Asia for marriage purposes and as such it critically analyses the existing literature about this phenomenon as a whole, not just within Taiwan. In this connection it also draws particularly on the literature and the existing Korean multicultural policies toward the immigration of Vietnamese women and their domicile in Korea for the purposes of marriage.

Past projects

Inez Gershonowitz
After Ellen

In this project I critically consider the increasing visibility of lesbians and gays on television, by examining representations of Ellen DeGeneres, both on and off screen after she famously came out on the sitcom, Ellen in 1997. I focus on the production and reception of the sitcom, The Ellen Show (2001), which followed Ellen and the daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres show (2003-present) to show how DeGeneres has helped to normalise the presence of lesbians on television and by extension, dominant culture. I maintain that based on her high ratings and evident popularity, Ellen is America's sweetheart - entertaining people of all sexes, genders, sexual orientations, and ages. While the decision to come out would have a huge impact on DeGeneres' life and career, the coming out of the actress and her character led to an international discussion of the presence of lesbians and gays in prime-time television and lead to an increase in lesbian visibility and representation on television.

Liam Grealy
Punishing paedophilic sex offenders: Cultural studies, consent, and community protection

Liam submitted his doctoral thesis in February 2013 and has been lecturing in the department in 'Introduction to Cultural Studies' and 'Youth Cultures' since that time. His thesis examined changes in Australian law and policy across the last decade in relation to the punishment and post-sentence detention and supervision of child sex offenders. It asked why this offender group has been central to recent political debate and significant legal reform, drawing on enlightenment justifications for punishment and examining the place of the child in the law. The thesis also considered in what ways cultural studies can and should engage with law and normative commitments. Apart from teaching, Liam is currently working on a co-authored project with Catherine Driscoll on the international emergence of media classification systems and their significance for institutionalising an idea of minoritised adolescence.

Luz Hincapié
Pacific Transactions, Identity, Race, Hybridity: Japanese immigrants to Colombia

This project centres on the immigration of Japanese to Colombia to understand the fluid identities and hybrid subjectivities that are born of the experience of immigration. For this purpose, the project will use methodologies from ethnography, oral history and life writing in order to interview Colombians of Japanese descent. The study explores how processes of identity formation are shaped by the uniqueness of being Colombians of Japanese descent and how a sense of belonging is constructed. It asks what is invested in the immigrants' strategies of identification. It also asks how the discourses on race and racial identity constitute the relationship between the Japanese descendents and the Colombian population at large. A multi-disciplinary perspective will be adopted, to 'get at' the affective and cultural dimensions of being a Colombian of Japanese descent through a theoretical framework from related disciplines such as anthropology, cultural studies, and literary studies.

Maria Elena Indelicato
International students: a history of race and emotions in Australia

Maria Elena Indelicato has an MA in Communication Science from the La Sapienza University of Rome. She submitted recently her PhD thesis on international students as a case of Australian border politics and practices. Her research interests include the processes of racialisation through and by emotions. She is also critically analysing the denial of Indigenous Sovereignty in Australia as a major factor in shaping understanding of race and race relations in, during, and after, the formation of Australia as an independent colonialist, and racially exclusionary, nation-state.

Sophie Johnson
On a Tightrope? Technologies of Motherhood in Neoliberal Society

For women transitioning from pregnancy to first-time motherhood, the everyday management of personal health (both their own and that of the foetus/infant) has come to encompass a combination of physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and moral work. This thesis examines the ‘work’ of contemporary western motherhood. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with middle-class women in Sydney over their transition to first-time motherhood, I show how mothers engage in technologies of the self (Foucault, 1985) which consist of practices undertaken to ensure the health and well-being of the foetus and infant. Mothers are not simply responsible for the self, but also for the unborn other, termed here as ‘being-for-intimate-others’. An examination of these technologies and their adoption by women reveals how dominant discourses are resisted, negotiated or differentially embodied by women facing first-time pregnancy and motherhood. In the context of information overload, choice and risk, in this thesis I identify a new ideology of mothering which responds to disciplinary pressures and, to some extent, pushes back against some elements of neoliberal responsibilisation. First-time mothers who engage in this ethic of ‘relaxed’ mothering work hard to manage advice, emotions and expectations and in the process transform pregnancy and parenting into a ‘project’. The emergence of a ‘relaxed parenting’ approach and adopting parenting as a ‘project’ can also be linked to the extension of an entrepreneurial ethic in which mothering becomes professionalised – a frame that is likely closely associated with the class positioning of my sample. The ‘project’ of parenting provides a partial resolution to the conflicts between work and mothering and provides a way of navigating these two domains at once and creating a sense of value in relation to mothering. Professionalised mothers engage in specific techniques for being competent mothers, which include ‘relaxing’, enlisting new technologies and devices such as smartphone applications and accessing online support. I explore how the ‘device-ification’ of mothering purports to turn it into an administrative and calculable activity. I also demonstrate how, ironically, ‘relaxed’ mothering actually involves a great deal of ‘work’.


  • Johnson, S. (2014) ‘“Maternal Devices”, Social Media and the Self-Management of Pregnancy, Mothering and Child Health’. Societies 4(2), 330–350. Available online:

Jessica Kean
Intimate Theory: Mononormativity, negotiated non-monogamy and
the politics of love

Increasingly described as a legislative inevitability in Australia, gay marriage is often heralded as the certain, if temporarily stalled, triumph of love and an overdue public symbol of the tolerance of sexual diversity. In this context it is worth renewing queer questions about the limits of legitimate intimacy in contemporary Western cultures – limits which may not be challenged by granting same-sex couples state recognition. Instead of adding another voice to debates about the potential consequences of same-sex marriage, this thesis approaches the contemporary politics of love from the perspective of those who do not march two by two, asking what we might learn from practices of negotiated non-monogamy. Analysing TV series, blogs, self-help books and first-person accounts alongside 23 qualitative interviews conducted with queer non-monogamists in and around Sydney, the thesis explores the way sex, love, friendship, emotion, and intimacy are currently theorised in relation to non-dyadic relationships. Friends who fuck, fictional polygamists, ‘ethical sluts’, swingers, and polyamorists are considered side by side in order to draw out the tensions (productive and otherwise) that animate stories of sex and love beyond the couple.

The thesis considers non-monogamous scheduling strategies, taxonomic skirmishes, measures of significance and theories of jealousy in relation to queer and feminist thinking on intimacy. Idiosyncrasies and unexpected resonances within the material are used to map the political valencies of discourses surrounding these marginalised relationship styles, contributing to scholarship on how contemporary negotiated non-monogamy can be understood - an active concern as queers are increasingly encouraged to dream of wedding whites. Offering an extended conceptualisation of mononormativity - one entwined with but ultimately distinct from heteronormativity - the thesis also addresses broader patterns, ideals and institutions of intimacy, arguing that more people stand to benefit from the decentring of monogamy than those who actively pursue a life outside it.

Tim Laurie
Deleuze, Music and the Politics of Cultural Criticism

Tim Laurie's PhD thesis examines the politics of writing cultural histories, with a focus on music as both an object of history and a resource for reorienting historical discourses. This project draws on a range of disciplines involved in music criticism and history, including anthropology, ethnomusicology, postcolonial studies, sociology, historiography, bibliography and aesthetics, but focuses primarily on Gilles Deleuze's post-structuralism as a possible way of renegotiating issues of cognition, memory, writing and aesthetics. My own case studies include the cross-marketing of r&b singles in the 1950s, covers of Motown songs by rock artists and hip hop producers, and heavy metal versions of blues and folk songs. This includes an examination of authority and expertise when constructed through different mediums - 45s, LPs, magazines, journals and books - and opens onto wider discussions around the politics and history of writing as a means of securing cultural knowledge.

Nancy Lee
Constructing Celebrity Chefs

The chef is no longer an anonymous figure in the kitchen. He (usually he) now tweets, appears on our television screens, our newspapers and beams from the cover of cook books. My research examines the construction of celebrity in the chef industry. P.D. Marshall suggests that celebrity can be used to “make sense” of the world around us (1997, p.51). I use this idea in concert with Bourdieu’s (1986) cultural capital. Chefs as celebrities have cultural capital – they are seen to possess specialised skills and knowledges which elevate them and keep them to their celebrity status. The consequences of celebrity impacts the way we consume within the industry, as well as how we understand chefs through the media. I examine the construction of the gendered celebrity chef in social, print and television media and consider the ways in which chefs are commodified. My multimedia approach examines a new, more accessible kind of celebrity that is being enacted by chefs. In an increasingly competitive industry, the labours of chefs are evolving. Building and maintaining a media identity is one of the labours required in order to be a successful working chef.


  • Lee, N. (2012) 'Make or Break: Building chefs in Sydney food media.' Locale 2, 140-159.

Remy Low
Schooling Faith: Religious education and neo-liberal government in "parent-controlled" neo-Calvinist schooling

Since the mid-1990s, there has been a sustained growth in religious schooling in Australia generally and with it, an intense dispute has swirled around the acceptability and desirability of this trend. In turn, these debates in the realm of education are not separate from broader questions arising in ostensibly secular-liberal nations like Australia over what has been termed the ‘new visibility of religion’ in public life. In my doctoral research, I bring the questions surrounding the new public visibility of religion to bear on the issue of religious schooling in Australia with a specific focus on the case of the Neo-Calvinist ‘Parent-Controlled’ schooling movement.


  • Low, Remy and Redden, Guy. 'My School, Education, and Cultures of Rating and Ranking'. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 2012, Vol. 34, Issue 1-2.
  • Low, Remy. 'The Inevitability of Religious Politics: Juan Luis Segundo and religion as faith and ideology'. From the proceedings of Challenging Politics: New Critical Voices, University of Queensland, 10-11 May, 2010.
    Available online:

Wei Miao
From National Allegory to Sentimental Fabulations: Gender, Affect and the Representation of Chinese Migration to the United States in the Post-Tiananmen Era

Written in the wake of Rey Chow's theorization of the Chinese sentimental, this thesis deploys an affect-centered conceptual framework to study selected televisual, filmic and literary narratives of Chinese migration to the United States produced in the post-Tiananmen era.


  • Wei Miao. 'On the English Translation of the Chinese Phrase "Hai Xuan"'. Journal of Zhengzhou Institute of Aeronautical Industry Management (Social Science Edition), 2008, (1): 128~9. (in Chinese)
  • Wei Miao. 'Design of Simulation Activities in College English Classes'. Journal of Inner Mongolia Agricultural University (Social Science Edition), 2006, (4): 583~4. (in Chinese)
  • Wei Miao. 'Symbolism in The Scarlet Letter'. Journal of Shaanxi Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition), 2003, (25): 254~8.
  • Wei Miao. 'Critical Linguistic Analysis of President Bush's Speech on "9.11"'. Foreign Languages Teaching, 2003, (24): 233~4. (in Chinese)

Li Meng
From Perplexity to Escape: Tragic Fictional Representations of 1980s Chinese Intellectuals in Huang Beijia's Nine Novellas

The 1980s witnessed a crucial interim during which China was recovering from the trauma of The Cultural Revolution while adapting itself to the changes brought by its Reform Era. The Chinese intellectuals of the 1980s, susceptible to the vicissitude as always, impressed the history and narratives of intellectuals with various responses, among which, the tragic and melancholic response was one of the most prominent.

The thesis highlights the tragic representations of intellectuals in 1980s in nine novellas of Huang Beijia, woman writer well-known for her concern over Chinese intellectuals. By studying the intellectual sexuality, intellectuals' social engagement, their transgression and connection of the West and self-orientation in the Reform Era, the author argues that perplexity is the major trigger of tragedies of the 1980s Chinese intellectuals who resort to escape in response to their adversity and trauma.

Shams Quader
Head banging in Dhaka: an exploration of a Bangladeshi alternative music scene

This thesis is about understanding the birth, development and maintenance of a technically subcultural music scene based on international metal genres in the socio-historically unique milieu of the postcolonial developing country of Bangladesh. Both the usefulness and limitations of theoretical frameworks dealing with alternative music related youth cultures, largely developed in western Anglophone countries, explaining the distinctive configurations of symbolic, social and economic elements through which a particular scene is mobilized, will be assessed by the empirical study of this alternative music scene. In this locale, the actors involved express their sentiments towards local situations with the resources available to them through the motivations of ‘local factors’ which accentuate a rather unique discourse of an alternative music scene. Similar studies have been done in other Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, but never before in Bangladesh, where there is an overall lacking of music related scholarly work in English. Based upon interviews with key figures of the scene, ethnographic observation and textual analysis, this research suggests that the urban youth’s frustration towards the poor situation of the country is channeled into desires to develop an alternative liberal space of artistic autonomy through the exploration of foreign music styles and the fantasy worlds of metal. While participants assert aesthetic distinction of their music from mainstream rock and pop, one of the main findings shows that they are not much concerned about ideas of selling out to the corporate music industry if they become popular without sacrificing aesthetic integrity. Emphasis is placed on Translocal connections with other alternative music scenes elsewhere while the local scene remains based on the activity of largely middle-class, part-time, male musicians who share particular economic, cultural and social resources that afford their participation. The empirical findings from this thesis raises questions about the extent to which this local scene represents canonical discourses of alternative rock and whether its transnationalism is properly explained through hybridization of international cultural forms.

Nikki Savvides
Animal-centred volunteer tourism in India, Indonesia and Thailand

My PhD thesis aims to reconfigure the destructive aspects of the tourism industry through the development of a practical ethics of tourism. With a particular focus on tourism practices in the Asian LDC nations of Thailand, India and Indonesia, I consider how forms of volunteer and conservation tourism focused on improving the lives of injured, rescued and endangered animals contribute to a paradigm for ethical tourism by engendering cross-species and cross-cultural engagements. In recognising the potential that such engagements have to dissolve the enforced boundary between humanity and nature, the thesis puts the animal back into the human notion of ‘community’, while conversely reconfiguring ‘the environment’ to include the human. By incorporating forms of indigenous knowledge with my own experiences conducting research in the field, and by placing animals at the centre of questions, ideas and theories about tourism practices, the project aims to ‘write in’ the agency of (human and non-human) subalterns while also allowing myself, as author and as tourist, to test the potentiality of the practical ethics first hand. In developing an ethical framework for tourism practices, the thesis ultimately aims to encourage a form of transnational or global responsibility within the tourism industry.


  • Savvides, N. (2012) 'Communication as a solution to conflict: similarities in divergent methods of horse training'. Society and Animals 20(2), 75-90.
  • Savvides, N. (2012) 'A dog's life on the streets of Bangkok'. In DeMello, M. (Ed.) Speaking for Animals: Animal Autobiographies, New York and London: Routledge.

Zitong Qiu
Youth and Chinese Modernity (1919-2010)

This PhD thesis explores how May Fourth modernity (1919-1921), socialist modernity (1949-1976) and postsocialist modernity (1979-2010) as different mode of dominant modernity play out in the discourse of youth in different historical eras. The thesis is comprised three parts. Each part consists of one historical background chapter and one chapter outlining a case study. Three historical background chapters constitute a cultural-historiography of youth through examining the dynamically linked tensions between the continuities and discontinuities of different modes of modernity that crystalised in the experience and discourse of youth. Three case studies examine three films: Song of Youth (Cui Wei and Chen Huai’ai, 1959), Sacrificed Youth (Zhang Nuanxin, 1985) and The World (Jia Zhangke, 2004). I read these films by utilising sexuality, ethnicity and class respectively as lines of inquiry to construct a new historiographical reading of May Fourth youth, socialist youth and postsocialist youth. There is a striking dearth of research on Chinese youth within youth studies, and within that small field most scholarship leans too heavily towards political science and sociology. In contrast, my study not only attempts to provide a new perspective on the ongoing debate surrounding the interface of area studies and cultural studies, but also seeks to stimulate a debate about what Chinese youth studies is, could be, and may become.