Department Seminar Series

Monday 1 August 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: David Bray (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Regenerating human/animal/environmental relationships in Australian agriculture?

In this seminar I will present some preliminary findings on a new research project which aims to examine the notion of ‘regenerative agriculture’ through a post-humanist lens informed by actor-network theory (ANT). In its original narrow sense, ‘regenerative agriculture’ refers to ‘organic’ farming practices designed to rebuild the health of depleted and degraded soils. But the term is now also used in a wider sense to suggest alternative production systems which aim to regenerate agricultural practices more broadly in order to rebuild degraded landscapes, remake human/animal relationships, revive rural communities and even restructure supply-chain relationships between producers and consumers.

Utilizing an actor-network approach (which ascribes agency not just to humans but also to other ‘things’ like animals, technologies, environments etc) I will focus in this presentation on unpacking the ‘black box’ of meat production to show how controversies that have emerged through mainstream practices have driven the search (and demand) for alternative ‘regenerative’ practices. Much of the data for this project derives from personal experience over the last three years in establishing and operating a small prime lamb business on a rural property near Adelong NSW (400 km SW of Sydney).

About the Speakers: Bray
David Bray's research is focused on exploring the inter-relationships between the built environment, governance and social change in contemporary China. Utilising post-structuralist theorisations on power, 'governmentality' and spatiality he aims to understand both how the built environment is imagined and planned at a governmental and technocratic level, as well as how its reconstruction impacts on communities and subjectivities at the local level. In particular David is interested in the multifarious ways in which the built environment becomes both a strategic resource for governmental interventions and a site of local resistance to those interventions and to the discourses they embody. China's rapid urban transformation in recent years is of global significance in its own right, but in a comparative context, it also raises many intriguing challenges to established understandings of modernisation, urbanisation and social change: in this broader context, David's research seeks to address larger theoretical debates associated with fields such as urban sociology, human geography, social policy, city planning and globalisation.

David Bray is fluent in Chinese (Mandarin) and undertakes regular research trips to China where he is currently engaged in research collaborations with scholars at leading universities including Peking, Tsinghua and Nanjing.

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 15 August 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Mai Hansford (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Activist Storytelling

In this seminar I present the stories and storytelling related in interviews with members of an activist public advocating for changes to benefit asylum seeker boat arrivals to Australia. Using Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) I have investigated whether and how a group consciousness has formed in the Refugee Action Coalition NSW (RAC), and what has motivated the group members to join action for social change on this issue. This investigation forms one chapter of my doctoral research.

This research uses Fantasy Theme Analysis (from SCT) to discern shared fantasy themes in the storytelling of members of the organising cadre for this activist public (the interviewees). The telling, retelling and embellishing of these stories expresses and develops group consciousness about asylum seekers. With SCT, group consciousness is represented as crucial to the strength and effectiveness of the public communication work of the group. This work is investigated in a later chapter in my thesis. In this presentation I will talk about the fantasy themes and rhetorical visions in the activists' storytelling and show how these are grounded in particular worldviews (master analogues) and utilise references to legitimising concepts (sanctioning agents). These worldviews reveal the driving forces for the activists on this issue; the legitimising concepts prove to be key to understanding RAC's public communication about asylum seekers.

About the Speakers: Mai
Mai Hansford's doctoral research examines stories and storytelling about asylum-seeker arrivals to Australia. Her research projects include semiotic analysis of political cartoons appearing in newspapers. She has extensive experience as a public relations practitioner before joining UTS. Her interests include ethical public communication practice and activism.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 5 September 2016, 1 - 2pm Co-hosted with SAPMiC
Speakers: Sohoon Lee (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Discussant: Shanthi Robertson (Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University)
Topic: Im/material Pay for Im/material work?

Theorising the Intersection of Reproductive Work, the Market and Law

Why do migrant women consent to reproductive labour despite insufficient and inadequate pay? Inspired by the scholarship on ‘immaterial’ labour which produces ‘immaterial’ products (Hardt and Negri 2000), and financialisation of the global market and its effect on women’s labour, I ask whether we can conceptualise ‘immaterial’ forms of compensation. Turning our attention to different forms of capital—material, speculative, and perhaps imaginative—allows us to incorporate our knowledge of global inequality to theorise a new exchange relation. This paper starts with the recognition that exclusion of certain categories of women from labour migration regimes – conceptually and legally – reflects a rejection of reproductive labour from being understood, treated and rewarded for its material value. I focus on the legal status as a form of ‘immaterial’ pay, as it grants a geographical access to an otherwise gated pool of wealth for migrant women. Focusing on the legal status also enables us to look at the role of the state in facilitating women’s reproductive labour. This paper is drawn from my PhD thesis on reproductive crisis and positioning of migrant women’s work between the market and law. The paper aims to provide a theoretical background to inquire the process in which consent is ‘manufactured’ (Burawoy 1979) or, perhaps better put, ‘serviced’.

About the Speakers:
Sohoon Lee : areas of interest are migrant women in Asia and the dynamics between labour and women’s rights, migration laws and illegality, social movement and atypical forms of resistance. She has undertaken consultancy with the UN Women, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), and other NGOs to write on topics of migrant domestic workers, intersectionality and discrimination and labour rights protections in South Korea.

Prior to her PhD studies, she worked at Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) in areas of ASEAN human rights mechanisms, indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia, and documentation of human rights violation. She completed her Hon. B.A. with high distinction in Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto and Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia-Pacific) at the University of Sydney. During her previous studies, she has undertaken research on multicultural (damunhwa) policies and ‘new’ nationalism in South Korea, return migrants and bottom-up development in Indonesia, and NGO-Trade Union relationship in migrant movement in South Korea.

Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 19 September 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Nadine Ehlers (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Racial Futurity: Afro-Pessimism and the Question of Black Life

Afro-pessimism names a theoretico-political intervention into the specificity of anti-black racism in the United States. Afro-pessimists argue that the structural position of black existence in the U.S. is indelibly marked by the slave relation, that the black subject is exiled from the human relation, and that white life comes into being and “recognizes itself as a positive counterpart to the non-subjecthood of blacks.” This paper speculates on how Afro-pessimism might be useful for thinking about racial futurity in the broadest sense, and in the context of reproduction in particular. Specifically, I consider how Afro-pessimist thought might guide an analysis of the bio(necro)politics of donor insemination.

About the Speakers: Ehlers
Nadine Ehlers joined The University of Sydney in 2016. Previously she has held appointments at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, The Ohio State University, and the University of Wollongong. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at New York University in the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Ehlers’ research broadly focuses on the socio-cultural study of the body, law, and biomedicine, to examine the racial and gendered governance of individuals and populations. Hermost recent work analyzes the bio/necro/vital politics of health—specifically in terms of racial reproductivity.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Thursday 29 September 2016, 1 - 3 pm
Speakers: Mort Weinfeld (McGill University)
Topic: Diasporas, Dual Loyalties, and Suspect Minorities: The Jewish Case

Minority communities in liberal democracies often have to negotiate a dualistic relation between a homeland or religion on the one hand, and a host society on the other. But at times this often benign dualism can also reflect alleged or actual competing loyalties, for a variety of cultural or geo-political concerns. And thus these loyalties can lead to minorities being labeled openly as suspect. And thus the negotiation options for victimized minorities are complex. Theses issues are illustrated with reference to the iconic Jewish case, as well as wartime victimization of Japanese, German, and Italian Canadians.

About the Speakers: Weinfeld
Morton Weinfeld is a Professor of Sociology at McGill University in Montreal, where he holds the Chair in Canadian Ethnic Studies. He has written extensively on issues relating to ethnic and race relations in Canada, multiculturalism, and immigration, and has advised the Canadian government on these issues. He has also done extensive research on the Canadian Jewish community. Among his publications are Ethnicity and Public Policy in Canada, with Harold Troper; Old Wounds: Jews, Ukrainians, and the Hunt for Nazi War Criminals in Canada, with Harold Troper; Who Speaks for Canada? With Desmond Morton; and Like Everyone else but Different: The Paradoxical Success of Canadian Jews.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Thursday 13 October 2016, 1 - 3 pm
Speakers: Yasmeen Arif (University of Delhi)
Topic: Life Emergent. The Social in the Afterlives of Violence

 

About the Speakers: Yasmeen
Yasmeen Arif M.A., M.Phil., PhD (University of Delhi) is Associate Professor in Sociology. Her doctoral work has been about post-war recovery in Beirut, Lebanon. She is currently completing a manuscript called “afterlife, reclaiming life after catastrophe” drawing material from a global terrain of catastrophes and disasters across the conventional categories of the natural, social, political and economic. A second forthcoming manuscript focuses on issues of social anthropological knowledge production, method and theory. Other research areas include urban studies, visual and material cultures, humanitarianisms, critical theory, philosophy and method in social anthropology. She has held positions at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities); CSDS, Delhi and the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Domains: International Journal of Ethnic Studies, Journal of the World Anthropological Network, Economic and Political Weekly and others.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 17 October 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Danielle Celermajer (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: From systemic analysis to systemic interventions: a sociologically informed approach to the prevention of torture

 

About the Speakers: Celermajer
Danielle Celermajer's professional life has been characterised by moving between organisations whose principal focus is human rights policy, advocacy and scholarship, and seeking a greater integration between these dimensions of human rights work. Since joining the University of Sydney in 2005, I have had the privilege of establishing two postgraduate human rights programs aimed at forging precisely this type of integration between the best of scholarship and effective human rights practice. The second, the Masters of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific Program) was established with a 1.5 million euro grant from the European Commission and is now in its sixth year with ongoing funding from the European Union and now forming part of the Global Campus of Human Rights programs.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 31 October 2016, 1 - 2 pm Co-hosted with BoS
Speakers: Mike Michael (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)
Topic: “The blackest black in the world”: innovation, aesthetics and the event of the public

 

About the Speakers: Michael
Mike Michael is a sociologist of science and technology. His research interests include the relation of everyday life to technoscience, biotechnological and biomedical innovation and culture, the interface of the material and the social, the public understanding of/engagement with science, animals and society, process methodology. Recent research projects have addressed the complexities of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis clinical trials (with Marsha Rosengarten), the interdisciplinary use of sociological and speculative design techniques to explore energy demand reduction (with Bill Gaver and Jennifer Gabrys), the ethics of stem cell research (with Claire Williams and Steve Wainwright), and the development of an ‘idiotic methodology’.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]


Past seminars

Monday 29 February 2016, 2 - 4 pm
Speakers: Geert de Vries (Department of Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & Amsterdam University College)
Topic: Multiculturalism and its Discontents in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known internationally as a well-ordered, peaceful and tolerant society. The Dutch like to see themselves in this way too. After WWII, the Netherlands have seen three streams of immigration: post-colonial influxes after the independence of Indonesia (1945/1949) and Surinam (1975) respectively; labor immigration plus family reunion mainly from Turkey and Morocco from the early 1960s onwards; and various waves of refugees up until and including today. In response to increased ethnic diversity, the country adopted a version of multiculturalism in the late 1970s. However, the 2000s brought in political turbulence and an ostentatious retreat from multiculturalism. Two high profile political murders: of the newcomer right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and of film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, changed Dutch society and its attitude toward multiculturalism. Today, the country subscribes to assertively liberal ideas of the state with integrationist demands of immigrants that border to assimilationism. Although partly reflecting a general European trend of anti-immigration sentiment and upsurge of right-wing parties, the Netherlands had its own dynamics and key events.

About the Speakers: Geert
Geert de Vries is Associate Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College. He specializes in historical sociology, sociology of social problems, and qualitative research. His most recent book is Doing qualitative research: The craft of naturalistic inquiry (2015, with Joost Beuving). An earlier relevant one: Nederland verandert: sociale problemen in het begin van de eenentwintigste eeuw [The Netherlands are changing: Social problems at the beginning of the twenty-first century], 6th ed. 2004. E-mail: g.c.de.vries@vu.nl.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 7 March 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Beatriz Carrillo Garcia (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: China’s Local Economic Elites and Charitable Giving

Following Marxist ideology with the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China all charities were closed down and philanthropy abolished. China’s opening and reform (from the 1980s onwards), however, has seen the reemergence of charities and philanthropic foundations, many of which are organised and funded by China’s new economic elites. Through an analysis of 190 interviews carried out with enterprise managers and owners in two Chinese cities (Lanzhou in the northwest and Zhongshan in the south) this paper outlines the charitable giving practices of those entrepreneurs, including teasing out: the relationship between enterprise ownership type and charitable giving; reasons for donating; and types of charities supported. Through that analysis the paper will also examine the role of local governments in shaping the charity field and what this might mean for both the development of a non-state charity/philanthropic sector, but also for the type of philanthropic sector that this will foster. This analysis serves to test whether the close interdependence between China’s economic elites and China’s Party-state has implications on enterprises’ giving practices, and more broadly for the kinds of organizations and social causes that will receive priority.

About the Speakers: Beatriz
Beatriz Carrillo Garcia is a Lecturer in China Studies and is a joint appointment of the China Studies Centre and the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. Her broad research interest is in social development and social change in contemporary China, and on development and social justice issues more broadly.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 21 March 2016, 1 - 2pm
Speakers: Laura Davy (PhD student, Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Disability policy’s poor relations: the National Disability Insurance Scheme, individualisation, and the place of people with intellectual disability and their families

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – the most significant transformation of the Australian disability services sector in decades – promises to offer choice and control to people with disability over the services and support they receive and the lives they lead. But different models of personal autonomy exist alongside each other in NDIS policy, informed by human rights frameworks such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), neoliberal welfare reform trends such as the privatisation of government services, and different interests within the disability advocacy sector.

A major challenge for NDIS implementation is ensuring that the policy mechanisms put in place to promote autonomy are effective in the lives of people with intellectual disability and their families. This paper argues that given that the level of choice, control and wellbeing that people experience is highly dependent on the quality of the relationships they share with others, NDIS policy needs to more thoroughly consider the relationships with family, carers and friends that people with disability are engaged in on a day to day basis. It will discuss the need to complement the individualised focus of the NDIS with provisions for actively supporting interpersonal relationships, and for articulating and negotiating the mutual and competing needs that arise within these relationships.

About the Speakers: laura_davy
Laura Davy completed a Masters in Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2012, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with First Class Honours in Social, Political and Historical Studies from the University of Technology, Sydney. She has conducted disability research for some years: within the disability advocacy sector; the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW; and within her Masters and Honours dissertations, which focused on the marginalisation of people with disability in mainstream political philosophy. She teaches undergraduate communications, social theory, and disability studies.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 4 April 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Greg Martin (Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Secrecy’s corrupting influence on democratic principles and the rule of law

Sometimes secrecy in law is required to protect vulnerable witnesses or suppress sensitive evidence. However, particularly since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, governments in liberal democratic societies have increased secrecy and the use of clandestine procedures under the pretext of safeguarding national security. In many instances, these developments have eroded civil liberties, infringed upon constitutional guarantees, and had negative effects on due process rights. In Australia, where individual rights and freedoms have only limited constitutional expression, it is hoped the doctrine of representative and responsible government will act as sufficient protection for human rights. Conversely, drawing on examples from the regulation of immigration to the control of serious organised crime, this chapter proposes that escalating secrecy in the current era has a corrupting effect on democratic principles and the rule of law.

About the Speakers: Martin_Greg
Greg Martin - key research interests: Criminal and constitutional law, cultural criminology, political sociology, protest and public order policing, social movements, youth studies. Greg welcomes enquiries from potential honours and postgraduate students and postdoctoral candidates to discuss research and supervision in these and related areas. Greg has appeared on BBC Radio 4 in the UK, local and national radio in Australia, and is happy to respond to media and other requests for consultation.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 18 April 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Jeremy Simpson (PhD student, Sociology and Social Policy, the University of Sydney)
Topic: Beyond the risk society: risk in Afghanistan and the sociology of risk-management

Despite the salience of terroristic and conflict-related risk in the 21st century, the contribution of the sociology of risk to research into such contemporary conditions of risk has been limited. A key issue is the dominance of the ‘risk society’ position of Ulrich Beck: in particular, ‘risk society’ has limited application to practices of risk-management, considered as action in response to conditions of risk. Drawing on empirical research in Afghanistan, the seminar indicates some possibilities for framing a practice-oriented sociology of risk and risk-management, and moving beyond the ‘risk society’ position.

About the Speakers: jeremy_simpson
Jeremy Simpson: Born in New Zealand; dual New Zealand/Australian citizen. Resident in Australia. Holder of a Bachelor of Social Science with High Distinction in Sociology and Philosophy and First Class Honours in Sociology. Member of The Australian Sociological Association. Instructor in sociology as lecturer and unit coordinator. Educational researcher in addition to research for PhD. Ex-advisor to the Ministry of Education, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 2 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers:

Dinesh Wadiwel (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)

Topic: The Transfer of Value: Live Animal Transport, Welfare and Labour

The treatment of animals in the context of Australian live animal exports has gained much attention recently, particularly as a result of a focus since 2011 by the media and animal advocates on the welfare of animals at destination countries. However, and despite the deep ethical concerns relating to live animal trade, today animal advocates arguably face a tactical quandary in relation to how to move forward, partly as a result of a strong "backlash" from businesses and governments seeking to secure live animal transport as a continuing export industry (Jones and Davies, 2016).

This paper seeks to explore live animal transport from the perspective of value chains within the context of globalising meat production. I will argue that live animal transport is a symptom of a meat industry that is structuring itself across borders, and that in this environment, both "integrated" and "dis-integrated" business models within the industry will create demand for live animal transport. While an increasingly globalised meat industry poses a formidable challenge to animal advocates, I will argue that this context offers a range of different levers for animal advocates, including in recognising the role of both human and non human labour within value chains.

This talk is based on research conducted as part of a Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB) Staff exchange fellowship, supported by the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN).

About the Speakers: Wadiwel_Dinesh
Dinesh Wadiwel - research interests include sovereignty and the nature of rights, violence, race and critical animal studies.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 9 May 2016, 2 - 4 pm
Speakers: Amanda Wise (Department of Sociology, Macquarie University)
Topic: Becoming Cosmopolitan: Encountering difference in a city of mobile labour

Many who move countries today do so for work, and labour mobility—both temporary and permanent—is the mechanism by which countless people (both movers and stayers) come into contact with cultural difference. The domain of mobile labour is thus an important context through which to consider the transformative possibilities of encounters with racial and cultural difference. Situated within debates on everyday multiculture and vernacular cosmopolitanisms my paper considers the question of intercultural encounter at work in relation to the layered histories of race and variegated citizenships of mobile labour in Singapore. Exploring the micro-nature of cosmopolitan practices, the paper considers under what labour conditions might an outward looking cosmopolitan sensibility and a convivial openness to otherness emerge amongst migrant workers, as against a set of survival based intercultural capacities?

I reflect specifically upon two cases of ‘incongruous encounter’ in workplaces reliant on precariously employed migrant labour: a mainland Chinese man and Filipina woman who, because of Singapore’s racialised system of work visas, find themselves working in South Asian restaurants in Singapore’s Little India. They both engage ‘cosmopolitan practices’ yet their sensibilities differ sharply. Their stories highlight how, in a place like Singapore, the ‘encounter’ needs to be understood within a regime of mobile labour, situated racial hierarchies and a highly stratified system of work visas. I further suggest that situational factors such as the nature of work including its spatial and temporal qualities, the mixture of co-workers and recognition relations with superiors all mattered in framing the affective atmospheres of encounter. In a context of forced encounter, I argue that learnt capacities to function and interact across difference should not necessarily be romanticised as a cosmopolitan sensibility.

About the Speakers: Beatriz
Amanda Wise : research interests include materialities, civilities, and 'sensibilities' of urban life; global cities and diversity; multiculturalism (especially 'everyday multiculturalism') in Australia and Singapore; racism and interethnic relations; national and cultural identities; cultural attachments to and formations of place, especially in relation to multicultural cities; diasporic, transnational and migrant communities; theorisations of 'work' and transnational labour; and experiences of low wage migrant labourers in Australia and Asia. Publications include Exile and Return Among the East Timorese (2006 University of Pennsylvania Press); Everyday Multiculturalism (Palgrave 2009 ed. with Velayutham) and numerous publications on 'living multiculture'.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 16 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Salvatore Babones (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)
Topic: Growth in China: Fiscal Solutions for Structural Constraints

As China approaches middle income status, its rate of economic growth is slowing. In per capita terms, China will soon catch up with peer countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, but will it surpass them? After three decades of rapid growth, China now faces the same kinds of structural constraints that these countries have faced for decades: a stagnant workforce, unequal urbanization, environmental depletion, tax avoidance, capital flight, brain drain, and a reluctance to invest in human infrastructure. These constraints combine to produce a fiscal crisis of the developmental state – a crisis that hit all of these peer countries at similar stages in their development and is likely to hit China before the end of this decade. Contrary to conventional wisdom, neither further economic liberalization nor improved rule of law will alleviate this crisis. The real lesson of endogenous growth theory is that China can only break through the middle income trap through pro-poor structural reforms that require a substantial expansion of the fiscal capacity of the Chinese state.

This presentation is a synthesis of several short articles, most of which can be viewed on the website of Foreign Affairs magazine: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/authors/salvatore-babones

About the Speakers: Babones_Salvatore
Salvatore Babones is the author or editor of ten books and more than two dozen academic research articles. His two main areas of academic research are the political economy of the greater China region and the methodology of quantitative modeling in the social sciences. He also publishes extensively on American social and foreign policy.
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]
Monday 30 May 2016, 1 - 2 pm
Speakers: Nadine Ehlers (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney)
Topic: Racial Futurity: Afro-Pessimism and the Question of Black Life
Venue: Room 148 RC Mills building, A26 [map]