Spine 3 (radiance), artwork by Dale Harding

Institute of Australian Geographers & New Zealand Geographical Society Combined Conference

6–9 July, 2021
The Institute of Australian Geographers and New Zealand Geographical Society combined Conference will take place at the University of Sydney on the stolen, unceded lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

Remembering, reimagining geography

The conference theme, Remembering, reimagining geography, is offered as an opportunity to critically consider how geography evolved the way it did, its influences on human and more-than-human worlds, and the contribution the discipline can make to more just and sustainable futures.

Hero image (above): Dale Harding, SPINE 3 (RADIANCE), 2018, Plaster, haematite oxide, 4.450 x 12.000m, UA2018.25.3, The University Art Collection, the University of Sydney

Traditional ownership of lands, waters and skies of contemporary Australia is the foundation of First Nations Peoples’ continuing sovereignty since before colonisation.

Acknowledging Indigenous ownership of this continent is especially important given the long and controversial history of Geography as a colonial discipline.

If geography is the science of 'writing about the earth' then the history of geography is inherently a history of many voices, chiefly that of Indigenous Peoples.

Yet in Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and elsewhere, Indigenous geographies have been systemically appropriated, undervalued and actively disrupted, a process often promoted by and recorded through the study of geography.

2021 marks the centenary of the first university geography program in Australia at the University of Sydney. While Geography, in and beyond Sydney, is a dynamic discipline - with the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ changing markedly over time - more structural changes are needed.

Who gets to write Geography? Whose Geographies are written? Under what conditions? And what Geographies are ultimately produced and accepted?

Reckoning with this fraught history requires surfacing the discipline’s imperial foundations and establishing new infrastructures of geographical knowledge that promote equitable relations between diverse humans and non-humans.

The conference theme of Remembering, Reimagining Geography is offered as an opportunity to critically consider how geography evolved the way it did, its influences on human and more-than-human worlds, and the contribution the discipline can make to more just and sustainable futures.

It is also an opportunity to remember and engage, from our different positions and places, the already existing life-sustaining systems of governance and legal orders of Indigenous sovereignties.

With its foci on the construction of spatial relations and the intersections of humans and the natural world, geography sheds distinctive light on the challenges to understand and respond to the multiple, entangled crises and ontologies of the twenty-first century.

This conference will provide a space to ask questions, share knowledge and ideas, celebrate achievements and imagine alternative futures within an agenda to 're-imagine the earth' in ways that promote plural and transformative geographies and acknowledge ongoing First Nations sovereignties.

Given the current health context and our ability to meet and engage in ways not previously possible, the format of the 2021 conference is a hybrid online conference combined with in-person events.

We wish to foster the discipline and the communities that support geography in ways that are safe, inclusive and fun. We understand that many of us miss the face-to-face social interaction but also that the health context varies across the world and that further changes are likely.

We welcome you to join us in your preferred format for a combined Australian and New Zealand conference that remembers and reimagines geography for a better future.

Keynote speakers

Dr Naama Blatman-Thomas

Dr Naama Blatman-Thomas

Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2020-2023) and lecturer in urban geography, The University of Sydney

Dr Blatman is a lecturer in urban geography at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences and the recipient of the Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2020-2023).

Through close collaboration with Indigenous urban partners, Naama explores how settler colonial cities in Australia and Palestine-Israel take shape and transform, historically and contemporality, and the continuous decolonial work that Indigenous peoples, lands, knowedges and cultures do within these cities. Her research probes entanglements of race (manmade social taxonomies that re/produce precarity) and capital extraction and profit-making (predominantly, through private property) in urban colonial structures and relations. Key research sites include housing, prisons and significant infrastructures (railways, environmental projects etc). Taken together, these sites surface the always incomplete and unsettled nature of colonisation. Methodologically, Naama uses a comparative lens, while combining ethnographic work with archival research. 

Naama earned her PhD from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and her MA from Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Prior to her academic work, she worked for many years in human rights organisations in Palestine-Israel. Naama published in leading journals such as Antipode, The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Geoforum. In collaboration with the Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council, she is currently developing a manuscript that explores the liberating potentialities of repossessed Aboriginal land in western Sydney.

Land Rights 2.0: Asserting Aboriginal assets in the capitalist urban economy

Indigenous scholars and allies have been writing extensively about the liberating qualities of land – as Country, as ontology, as identity. Indigenous land, they repeatedly remind us, is never mere possession. Indigenous lands, waters and air thus inherently defy commodified land relations that sit at the heart of the settler colony. At the same time and in the face of 200 years of invasion, Aboriginal people in Australia are now owners of an expanding geography of commodified land. In NSW, Local Aboriginal Land Councils have been reclaiming Crown land as freehold since 1983. Once reclaimed, the land inevitably becomes an asset (lest it becomes a liability). This presentation draws on a collaborative research with Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council, currently the largest private landowner in Western Sydney. It explores articulations and transformations of land relations within the Land Council and asks what landownership means for Aboriginal sovereignty in the city. Moving past the juxtaposition of (racial) capitalism and decolonial futures, we propose a more nuanced understanding of Aboriginal landownership and its location in the capitalist property market.  In so doing we surface the liberating possibilities of commodified land for Aboriginal communities.

Mrs Susan Caldis

Mrs Susan Caldis

(BEd; MEd; MRes; PhD in progress)
PhD Candidate; President, GTA NSW&ACT

Mrs Caldis is a PhD candidate and sessional academic in the Macquarie School of Education, Macquarie University. 

Her expertise is within Geography Education, most notably exploring the pedagogies best suited to the learning and teaching of Geography in schools and within methodology courses in Initial Teacher Education Programs. Prior to commencing doctoral studies, Susan was a Geography teacher, moving into school-based leadership and then national curriculum development roles for Geography.  

Susan’s research focuses on the transformation of pedagogical practice amongst pre-service teachers of Geography as they transition into the profession and enter their early-career years. During her doctoral candidature, Susan received the Award for Excellence in Higher Degree Research. In 2019 the Academy of Singapore Teachers hosted Susan in Singapore as the Outstanding Educator In Residence for geographical education.  

Susan is an influential advocate for geography education and involved in actioning selected recommendations from Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future. Currently, as a STEM Ambassador for geographical education, Susan is progressing dialogue between stakeholders about the visibility and contribution of Geography in the STEM field.

Susan is also known for her active and sustained involvement in the leadership of professional associations. She is the Honorary Secretary for the Geographical Society of NSW. Susan is also President, Geography Teachers Association of NSW & ACT and Secretary, Australian Geography Teachers Association; roles she previously held between 2014–2016. In recent years, Susan received the Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession in recognition of her long-term involvement with and active contribution to professional associations.

Understanding a climate emergency in and through geography education: What can geography educators declare?

A formal declaration about a climate and biodiversity emergency is imminent. The declaration provides important opportunities for collaboration between geographers in schools and universities; also, for exploring geography’s distinctive core through a ‘personal geographies’ educative lens. Connecting ways of knowing and doing in geography between school curriculum, teachers, students, researchers, and scholarship, will help to raise the visibility and integrity of geography as a subject in schools. So, ‘How can we do this?’. Some possibilities to declare about understanding a climate and biodiversity emergency through geography education emerge in findings from a recent doctoral study, and STEM Ambassador lived experience. 

Dr Chantel Carr

Dr Chantel Carr

ARC DECRA Fellow, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, University of Wollongong.

Dr Carr's research explores the relationship between work and climate change through ethnographies of carbon-sensitive industries. 

Chantel Carr is an ARC DECRA Fellow within the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS) at University of Wollongong. 

Chantel’s work addresses the capacities of workers, households and communities to negotiate change in some of the most energy-intensive landscapes in urban and regional Australia.

Three current projects ground this research in specific places and sectors: an examination of how coal workers and their households plan for workplace change in the Illawarra; an analysis of how community needs and aspirations intersect with industrial and infrastructural futures at Port Kembla; and an interdisciplinary project looking at air-conditioning repair and maintenance as a site of energy transitions in the built environment.

Chantel’s interdisciplinary research draws on an academic and professional background in geography, architecture and engineering. She has published work in key international journals including Progress in Human Geography and Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.  

Repair and care: Locating the work of climate crisis

Climate crisis has arrived, and as predicted it has brought with it high levels of uncertainty. More frequent and extreme weather events are already exposing shortcomings in material and social infrastructures, signalling a future characterised by profound change and disruption. It is time to look beyond the ‘if’ and ‘when’ and turn our attention to the work of climate crisis.

Work is fundamental to our embodied, material and spatial understandings of the world, yet it is a lens on everyday life that remains largely overlooked in social and cultural geography. What does the work of climate crisis look like, and who will do this work?

In this paper I address these questions, arguing that any just response to climate crisis demands more attention be paid to the deeply interwoven labours of repair and care. Reflecting on fieldwork across a range of climate-vulnerable sectors and places – manufacturing, the built environment and aged care – I locate this work within the context of adaptation and mitigation action.

Capacities to repair and care for our world and each other are of course profoundly important for adapting to the conditions of planetary breakdown. But the work of repair and care is also crucial for transitioning to low-energy, low-carbon futures. A focus on this vital work suggests a deeply pragmatic and inclusive environmental politics and scholarship, bringing into dialogue rich veins of work within and beyond geography on labour and everyday life.

Dr AM Kanngieser

Dr AM Kanngieser

AM Kanngieser is a geographer, sound artist and Marie Curie Research Fellow in Geography at Royal Holloway University of London.

AM Kanngieser is a geographer, sound artist and Marie Curie Research Fellow in Geography at Royal Holloway University of London.

They are the author of Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds (2013) and Between Sound and Silence: Listening towards Environmental Relations (forthcoming), and have published in interdisciplinary journals including  South Atlantic Quarterly, Progress in Human Geography and Environment and Planning D. 

Their collaborative audio work has been featured on Documenta 14 Radio, BBC 3, ABC Radio National, The Natural History Museum London, Arts Centre Melbourne, Radio del Museo Reina Sofía, Deutschland Radio and QAGOMA.

They are part of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures. https://amkanngieser.com/

Fishy futures: restor(y)ing fish in the 21st century

This talk explores AM Kanngieser and Zoe Todd’s collaborations at the intersections of listening, attunement, Indigenous legal orders, fish and environments.

Informed by writing from North American and Pacific Indigenous scholars, we show how restorying and listening approaches enable us to come into better reciprocal and consensual relations with fish, water and place.

By gathering together a series of kin studies, we will narrate experiences from our ongoing research and community-based projects that teach us the importance of listening to and with fish and other aquatic species in the face of cumulative, urgent socio-environmental challenges in the homelands we work within and for.

Drawing on Indigenous legal orders, story, and other methods that attend to place and time immemorial, we query how to dismantle universalist colonial scientific approaches that dismiss the political agency of fish and also do not engage Indigenous laws or sovereignty in the fulsome way needed to protect habitats and livelihoods against the violences of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, and ecological destruction.

Professor Uma Kothari

Professor Uma Kothari

Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies, University of Manchester, UK and Professor of Human Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Kothari's research interests include colonialism and humanitarianism, mobilities and borders, environmental change and geography.

Uma Kothari is Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK and Professor of Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia. 

She is the Vice President of the European Association of Development Institutes and is on the advisory board of In Place of War, a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict.

She is currently carrying out research on Seafarers: a cultural geography of maritime mobilities and on Environmental change and everyday life on small Island states funded through grants from the ARC and ESRC. She has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project on ‘Touring Britain in the 1950s: the adventures of postcolonial travellers’.

Decolonising development: stories of solidarity

With recent global protests demanding the decolonisation of public spaces, histories and knowledges, we are a positioned at a critical moment that is replete with potential.  These challenges have significant implications for the field of global development given its colonial genealogy.

To date, despite postcolonial and feminist critiques, much development discourse and practice continues to be ahistorical and militates against the potential for solidarity. This limited historical analysis is partly due to future orientated imperatives to achieve development goals as well as an unwillingness to unearth an uncomfortable imperial past. Additionally, there persists an implicit assumption that development interventions are motivated by ideals of universal rights and an ethics of care.

Instead, I contend, development is founded upon the cleaving of differences between people and places and so often inadvertently fosters inequalities and stifles attempts to instil solidaristic principles. Moreover, even if decolonising imperatives were to be more substantively deployed to inform development, given tendencies to co-opt other critical feminist and anti-racist discourses, it is likely that they too would lose their radical edge.

Accordingly, this paper argues that to successfully decolonise development, we must undertake a more sustained analysis of past injustices and a more radical reconceptualisation of development as solidarity.  By recounting historical and contemporary stories of solidarity, I illuminate how development can promote new forms of solidarity and seek to identify the spaces in which these can be forged.

Professor Steve Ratuva

Professor Steve Ratuva

Director and Professor, Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Professor Ratuva is a critical inter-disciplinary scholar whose work traverses the boundaries of sociology, anthropology, politics, development studies, history  and cultural studies.

Ratuva has a PhD from the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex), was a Fulbright Senior Fellow at UCLA, Duke and Georgetown and currently Chair of the International Political Science Association research committee on security, conflict and democratisation. He was co-winner of the 2019 University of Canterbury research medal; awarded the 2020 Mertge Medal, New Zealand’s leading award for social science research excellence and was elected into the Royal Society Te Apārangi of New Zealand in 2021.

He has led a number of regional and global research teams including the Palgrave global ethnicity project, which produced the largest (2,044 pages) work on ethnicity in the world. He also leads a research team on global security and also leads a team on COVID-19 and social protection. He has carried out advisory and consultancy roles for a number of international and regional organisations such as UNDP, ILO, Pacific Islands Forum, Commonwealth Secretariat, Asian Development Bank and others.

Ratuva’s latest books are Contested terrain: Rethinking security in the Pacific (2019); Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity (2019); Guns and roses: Comparative civil-military relations in the new global environment (2019); Global risks, identity and security: A conceptual and empirical approach (2021); and COVID-19 and social protection: A comparative study in human resilience and social solidarity (2021). He is currently completing a book, Epistemic siege: Neoliberalism and the crisis of global knowledge, to be published in 2022.

Weapons of mind destruction: Neoliberalisation of knowledge, epistemic inequity and the Global South

The presentation critically examines how the neoliberalisation of knowledge has led to greater commodification, control, inequity and trivialisation of research and academia in favour of powerful market imperatives and some of the implications of these on the Global South.

The imposition of the audit culture, performance metrics, ranking systems and McDonaldization policies have transformed the way we do research, publish and how we value knowledge. Some of the consequences of these are: the relegation of epistemic systems of indigenous and minority cultures to the margins in a new phase of intellectual hegemony; increased competition and territoriality between academics; the creation of a new academic feudal system consisting of a powerful class of highly paid academic feudal lords ruling over a class of dispensable academic serfs (professors are the chief serfs) employed on insecure contracts; increasing militarisation of knowledge and; the creation of a multi-billion dollar publishing industry on the backs of publicly funded researchers who create knowledge without financial return for themselves.

These developments are often sold as symbolising modern innovation and are normalised through EFTs-based funding models, corporatization of university services and structures and extensive PR about the virtues of privatisation. The presentation interrogates the implications of these “weapons of mind destruction” and raises fundamental questions about the value of research in addressing issues of equity, justice, diversity and empowerment for humanity vis a vis as a commodity for the market. In particular, it focuses on knowledge inequality and implications for the Global South.

Professor Lauren Rickards

Professor Lauren Rickards

Co-lead, Climate Change Transformations research program, Centre for Urban Research, and Interim Director, Urban Futures, RMIT University 

Professor Rickard's research includes climate change, urban futures and sustainability.

Lauren Rickards is a Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University where she leads a social research group on climate change, a cross-university interdisciplinary platform on urban futures, and work on the sustainable development goals and research impact. 

Lauren has a background in multiple subdisciplines of geography, degrees in geography from the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford and co-leads the IAG’s Nature, Risk and Resilience study group.

Her own research has three interconnected elements: analysis of the discourses, imaginaries and practices that shape climate change responses (or the lack thereof); the often unjust materialities and relations that climate change, disasters and the Anthropocene are exposing, exacerbating and generating, particularly around agriculture, land and food; and critical applied research with organisations on how they can adapt to climate change.

To support the latter, Lauren has helped set up the Climate Change Exchange to allow researchers and practitioners to exchange and generate experiences, critical knowledge and ideas around adaptation. 

Lauren is also advising state government and a wide variety of groups on climate change. Internationally, she is on the International Science Council-UNDRR Expert Review Group, a Lead Author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group Two on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, and an Editor of Dialogues in Human Geography. 

Adapting the Academy to Climate Change

As the search for climate change ‘solutions’ intensifies, certain sectors are coming to the fore as particularly important enablers of adaptation, channelling the effects of climate change in influential ways. In particular, academic research is frequently presented as key to society’s capacity to adapt to climate change, not the least because it can help track and project climate change impacts.

But how is the Academy itself adapting to climate change? How does it - that is, we - need to adapt? And what effect are we actually having at present? In this lecture, I draw together an array of my climate change research with insights from legal and feminist geography and collaborations with others, to examine the far-reaching implications of climate change for academia and geography especially. My aim is to complement vital efforts to decarbonise academic institutions by examining the neglected question of how to adapt academic research to climate change.

Over the last 18 months, the potential for extreme events such as fires and floods to disrupt and stress our research endeavours has become increasingly apparent. More than a physical risk, though, climate change poses a far-reaching challenge to some of academia’s key norms, claims, structures, practices and products. Disregarding these challenges exacerbates risks not just to academia or those relying on it for guidance, but to all of those implicitly influenced by it and its maladaptive responses to date.

At the same time, framing academia as an external enabler of others’ adaptation arguably hampers its own adaptation and illustrates limitations in contemporary conceptualisations of climate change. The upshot is a real need for geographers and other critical scholars to confront climate change, understand our vulnerabilities to it, examine our intended and unintended impacts, and begin to respond purposively, collectively and creatively.

Professor Lauren Rickards

Professor Regina Scheyvens

Professor of Development Studies, Massey University

Professor Regina Sheyvens research interests include international development and sustainable development in the Pacific region.

Regina Scheyvens began her academic journey studying human geography and social anthropology, and is currently Professor of Development Studies at Massey University. She has also served as Co-Director of the Pacific Research and Policy Centre. At Massey she combines a passion for teaching about international development and sustainable development with research focusing on the Pacific region.

Recent articles have examined the Sustainable Development Goals and the need to move beyond ‘business-as-usual’, the value of self-determined development on customary land, Indigenous approaches to tourism, and resilience and adaptation of tourism-dependent communities in the face of the coronavirus pandemic (see www.reimaginingsouthpacifictourism.com). Regina’s key books include Tourism for Development: Empowering Communities (Pearson, 2002), Tourism and Poverty (Routledge, 2011), Development Fieldwork: A Practical Guide (Sage, 2014), and Inclusive Tourism Development (Routledge, 2020).

Regina was Chair of the Development Geographies specialist group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) from 2017-19, has served on the Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Development and Relief Committee for 18 years, and has Chaired the Steering Committee of DevNet (International Development Studies Network of Aotearoa New Zealand) since 2008. 

She is a current recipient of a James Cook Fellowship, Te Apārangi/Royal Society of New Zealand, and in 2019 she won the John Rooney Award of the AAG specialty group on Recreation, Tourism, and Sport for ‘outstanding contributions to the applied field’. She has also received a national award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching (2005) and the Massey Medal for Research Supervision (2015).

Reimagining South Pacific Geographies: How adaptative responses to the pandemic challenge dominant narratives of development in the region

This presentation critically reflects on the ways that countries and territories of the South Pacific are commonly labelled and positioned in development discourse. The United Nations’ designation of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) recognises that some island states face “unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities”.  This ‘small’ and ‘vulnerable’ labelling has been widely adopted by external actors with concerns ranging from the environmental impacts of climate change through to geopolitics and China’s position in the region.

In sum, the suggestion is that countries of the South Pacific are in a somewhat weak position and require ongoing guidance and assistance from external actors. Leaders within the region have long challenged such dominant narratives, with the late Professor Epeli Hau’ofa reframing mindsets through his seminal work ‘Our Sea of Islands’. Now we see regional politicians embracing the language of ‘large ocean states’ and a ‘blue continent’ rather than SIDS.

Drawing upon an ongoing research project which commenced in May 2020, I will seek to contribute to these counter-narratives by highlighting the diverse and often innovative ways that people living in tourism-dependent communities in the Pacific have adapted to border closures and the consequent loss of most of their household income over the past year. Their stories reveal the strengths of deep-seated knowledge systems, cultural relationships and connections to the land and sea, which have helped former tourism business owners and employees to support their families and communities.

Thus, contrasting with narratives of ‘smallness’ and ‘vulnerability’ dominating the SIDS space, tourism-dependent communities have shown that they are not mere spectators in development but are active agents who have responded effectively to the challenges associated with the lack of tourism and the pandemic. At time of global crisis, there is much that external actors could learn from Pacific peoples about adaptive strategies and resilience.

Associate Professor Zoe Todd

Associate Professor Zoe Todd

Co-founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures

Zoe Todd is an expert in Indigenous perspectives on freshwater fish conservation in western Canada (specifically, Alberta).

Zoe Todd is an expert in Indigenous perspectives on freshwater fish conservation in western Canada (specifically, Alberta). Their work brings together Indigenous science, art, social studies, and legal thinking about fish as more-than-human kin.

Their current projects examine how Indigenous legal orders shape and refract western fish conservation paradigms.

They are the founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures (2018), which is an international collective of scientists, artists, writers, landscape architects, architects, environmentalists, journalists, and community leaders dedicated to honouring reciprocal responsibilities to freshwater fish in watersheds locally and globally. 

Fishy futures: restor(y)ing fish in the 21st century

This talk explores AM Kanngieser and Zoe Todd’s collaborations at the intersections of listening, attunement, Indigenous legal orders, fish and environments.

Informed by writing from North American and Pacific Indigenous scholars, we show how restorying and listening approaches enable us to come into better reciprocal and consensual relations with fish, water and place.

By gathering together a series of kin studies, we will narrate experiences from our ongoing research and community-based projects that teach us the importance of listening to and with fish and other aquatic species in the face of cumulative, urgent socio-environmental challenges in the homelands we work within and for.

Drawing on Indigenous legal orders, story, and other methods that attend to place and time immemorial, we query how to dismantle universalist colonial scientific approaches that dismiss the political agency of fish and also do not engage Indigenous laws or sovereignty in the fulsome way needed to protect habitats and livelihoods against the violences of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, and ecological destruction.

Professor Matthew Tonts

Professor Matthew Tonts

Chair, Environmental Protection Authority (Western Australia)

Professor Tont's research interests are diverse, spanning rural geography, regional development and economic geography. 

Matthew Tonts was appointed Chair of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) (Western Australia) in January 2021, having previously been Professor of Geography at The University of Western Australia. 

Between 2016 and 2020 he was also Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Business Law (2016-2020) at UWA and prior to this was Head of the School of Earth and Environment (2010-2016).  In 2020 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

Matthew’s research interests are diverse, spanning rural geography, regional development and economic geography.  His early research focused on how Australian rural communities were adjusting broader processes of economic, social and political restructuring and reform.

This led to collaborations with numerous colleagues on topics ranging from amenity migration, to the geography of rural sporting clubs, to matters related to environmental change. 

More recently, he has been engaged in research related to the implications of resource-led development, regional labour markets, and urban economic networks.

Much of Matthew’s work has involved close collaboration with government, not for profit grounds and private industry.  Central to this has been applying geographic concepts and techniques to understand and resolve questions related to policy and practice. 

This has extended to his role with the EPA where geographical perspectives play a critical role in pursuing the objective of environmental protection. 

Environmental protection and the geographies of the post-pandemic economies

In early 2020, most financial commentators foreshadowed a protracted economic downturn as a result of Covid-19 and the associated measures being adopted to curb the pandemic. Indeed, there was widespread concern that Covid-19 would lead to a contraction of economic activity, falling levels of investment and rapidly rising unemployment. 

Twelve months on, it is clear that there is a complex geography to the emerging post-pandemic economy and that some of the ‘flat earth’ assumptions about the impact of Covid-19 have been wide of the mark. In Australia, many regions have experienced a surge of investment and economic activity on the back of domestic stimulus policies, liquidity in financial markets and rising national and global demand.  

Within this context, the evolving geographies of regional development have significant environmental implications.  In this presentation, I reflect on the nature of the emerging post-pandemic economy and the challenges for environmental protection. Central to this is understanding both the cumulative and multi-scalar nature of environmental impacts and how these are shaped by complex economic geographies. 

Rather than suggesting environmental protection is a passive ‘responder’ to economic processes, I argue that it has a critical role to play in shaping the nature and spatial characteristics of economic activities. The presentation concludes by considering the role geography plays in environmental protection, and how this might be enhanced into the future.

Dr Sophie Webber

Dr Sophie Webber

Senior Lecturer in Geography and ARC DECRA Fellow

Dr Webber is a Senior Lecturer in Geography and ARC DECRA Fellow in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. Sophie is an economic geographer, studying the political economies of climate change, adaptation and resilience.

She has conducted research in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region and with international development actors working in these sites. This research has critically interrogated the politics, finance and knowledge claims of globalising climate change policy projects, with a focus on how they are locally implemented, interpreted, and imagined, and with what effects.

For and against climate capitalist realism

By engaging with both mainstream and critical geographical arguments about climate capitalism and ideas of repair and reparations ecologies, this presentation will examine putatively ‘financialised’ responses to climate change that might be harnessed for more reparative ends. While the two cases I consider - carbon offsetting and social-physical climate infrastructures – are not ultimately ‘radical’ alternatives, nor are they only on the terrain of capitalism. As a result, I argue that critical geographers must content with the ambiguities, ambivalences and potentials of climate capitalism. In other words, I will argue both for and against ‘climate capitalist realism’.

Panel discussion: Reimagining urban development

Graham Davis-King

Graham Davis-King

Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council Board member

  • Proud Aboriginal man from South West NSW
  • Artist and musician
  • Cultural leader and knowledge holder
Susan Lloyd

Jenny Leong

Member for Newtown 

Jenny Leong is the State Member for the Electorate of Newtown in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. Jenny was elected to parliament at the NSW state election on 28 March 2015. 

Jenny’s statewide portfolio responsibilities for the NSW Greens include:

  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Women's Rights
  • Human Rights
  • Sexuality and Gender Identity
  • Multiculturalism
  • Western Sydney
  • Climate Change

Earlier in her career Jenny worked for a number of years with Amnesty International as a crisis coordinator and campaign manager in London, Hong Kong, and Sydney. At Amnesty International, she oversaw the organisation’s response to the Middle East & North Africa Uprising and worked to protect freedom of expression in the lead up to the 2010 Burma elections. Prior to entering parliament, Jenny was the Manager of Community Arts and Cultural Development at the Australia Council for the Arts.

Jenny has lived, studied and worked in the suburbs that make up the electorate of Newtown for nearly 20 years. While studying at the University of Sydney, she held leadership roles as a fellow on the University of Sydney Senate and as President of the Sydney University Postgraduate Association.

Jenny has been an active member of The Greens for over a decade. In 2013, she worked as the Federal Election Campaign Coordinator for the NSW Greens.

Susan Lloyd

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz

CEO & Managing Director, Mirvac Group

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz was appointed Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director in August 2012 and a Director of Mirvac Board in November 2012.Prior to this appointment, Susan was Managing Director at LaSalle Investment Management. Susan has also held senior executive positions at MGPA, Macquarie Group and Lend Lease Corporation, working in Australia, the US and Europe.Susan is the Chair of the Green Building Council of Australia, aDirector of the Business Council of Australia,member of the NSW Public Service Commission Advisory Board, President of INSEAD Australasian Council and a member of the INSEAD Global Board.Susan holds a Bachelor ofArts (Hons) from the University of Sydney and an MBA (Distinction) from INSEAD (France).

Jess Miller

Jess Miller

Councillor, City of Sydney

Jess was elected to the City of Sydney Council as part of the Clover Moore Independent team in 2016. Part of her motivation for being on council was to help ensure that the views of younger people were being represented in local Government (especially with regardto the 24 hour economy). She also wanted to help the City to set a global exampleof how to deal with the changing climate. Jess’s key areas of expertise are in environmental systems, specifically urbanecology and urban forestry, and local food systems. She is an advocate for a slowcity with lots of active and public transport, character, community, sport, colour and creativity.

William Johnstone

William ‘Smiley' Johnstone

Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council Strategic Advisor

  • Proud Aboriginal man from Western NSW
  • Former Chief Executive Officer of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council
  • Member of the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly and Housing Co.
  • Member of the NSW Rugby League Board
  • Independent advisor to governments and the private sector

Sessions and Registration Information

Abstract submissions have now closed.

For full session description and session primary contacts please download the Sessions and Call for Abstracts PDF (pdf, 333.7 Kb)

Session Number Session name
1 Border Studies in Australian and New Zealand Geography
2 Reimagining the geographies of diverse children and childhoods
3 Physical geographies and processes of coastal systems
4 Climate adaptation justice in theory and practice
5 Geography education: Reimagining its visibility and enactment 
6 Remembering and reimagining embodied geographies
7 Health and economies in the web of life
8 Understanding the relationships between extractive activity and landscape change: theoretical and methodological challenges
9 Embodied methodologies: contributions and challenges to the field
10 Beyond Tesla: Remaking Electro-mobilities for Sustainability and Justice
11 Harnessing the palaeoanthropocene

Speaking from our places: protocols and practices acknowledging who we are and where we stand in our academic praxis

Please note: This is an invited panel session and the organisers are not accepting abstracts

13 Geographies of Activism and Acquiescence
14 Critical approaches to development, justice and participation in a time of crises
15 Remembering the promises of food security: reimagining a different food future
16 Remembering, Reimagining Political Space
17 New and Emerging Research in Cultural Geography
18 Disrupting Housing: digitalization and innovations in housing
19 Housing for human and non-human flourishing
20 Urban soils – troubles, visibilities and opportunities
21 Actually existing digital geographies in the antipodes (and elsewhere)
22 Alternative Urban Imaginaries: Counter mapping and creative cartography
23 Alternative Urban Imaginaries 2: Storying Radically Interdependent Counter-Cities
24 Regenerative, Resilient and Really Diverse, New Economic Geographies
25 Roundtable on geography under ‘change plan’: experiencing, adapting to, and resisting university restructuring 
26 Contesting green finance
27 Rupture and the reimagining of nature-society
28 Research under climate change: between rapid impact and slow scholarship
29 Stakeholder Capitalism? Exploring the Practices and Politics of Commercial Responsibilisation
30 The geography of the post-pandemic economy

'Geographers Declare Action' Workshop

Please note: This is an invited panel session and the organisers are not accepting abstracts

32 Rethinking Counter-urbanisation: Explorations into Australian internal migration away from the cities
33 Indigenous Legal Geographies
34 Settler-Colonial Urbanisms - Convergences, Divergences, Limits
35 Infrastructures of settler colonialism
36 Open Session: Indigenous Peoples Knowledges and Rights
37 Shifting legal geographies of tenure
38 Garnering legitimacy through the law: the untapped potential of (legal) geography research
39 Legal Geography: Perspectives and Methods


Ticket sale Amount
Early Bird IAG/NZGS/Geography teachers assoc. Member Full  $530
Early Bird non-member Full $580
Full Standard IAG/NZGS/ Geography teachers assoc. Member $600
Full Standard non-member $650
Full - EARLY Student/Retired/Unemployed non-member $360
Full Standard IAG/NZGS/ Geography teachers assoc. Member $300
Full - Standard Student/Retired/Unemployed non-member $400
Full - Standard Student/Retired/Unemployed IAG/NZGS/ Geography teachers assoc. Member $350
Online attendance (2021 Early Student/Retired/Unemployed member) $100
Online attendance (2021 all other categories) $200
Day - Non-member $280
Day - IAG/NZGS/ Geography teacher assoc. member $250
Online attendance (2021 virtual day) $100
Dinner and IAG awards ceremony (8/7/21) $120
Student/Retired/Unemployed Dinner and IAG awards ceremony (8/7/21) $60
Day - Student/Retired/Unemployed non-member $230
Day - Standard Student/Retired/Unemployed IAG/NZGS/ Geography teachers assoc. member $200

We hope everyone who registers for the conference will be able to attend; however, we know that extenuating circumstances do occur. Our cancellation and refund policies are as follows:

Cancellations will only be considered when received in writing to events.rsvp@sydney.edu.au.

There will be no penalty for cancellations received on or before the 11 June, 2021. The full amount paid will be refunded. 

From the 11th of June to 25 June, 2021 a cancellation fee of 30% of registration costs will be applied.

Registrants cancelling after the 25 June, 2021 will not receive a refund unless your cancellation was due to a verifiable emergency medical issue Please provide this written information and evidence as soon as possible to  events.rsvp@sydney.edu.au.

Should travel bans be implemented or lifted due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, please notify the secretariat at events.rsvp@sydney.edu.au. We will change your ticket accordingly and organise a refund if applicable (e.g. from face to face attendance to online, or vice -versa).

15 February 2021: Call for sessions closes 

19 April 2021: Abstracts close

28 April: Abstract confirmation

For all conference enquiries, please contact:

Professor Phil McManus

Email:  iagnzgs2021.conference@sydney.edu.au


Maroubra and Malabar beaches are two examples of intermediate embayed beaches, with Malabar being deeply embayed. In this fieldtrip we will observe the morphodynamic differences between the two beaches and the controls that the headlands exert upon them. We will start our trip at North Maroubra and walk along the beach towards its south end looking at the different controls and anthropogenic influences. We will then walk along Malabar Headland National Park, which offers dramatic coastal views and is an excellent point for whale watching. We will finish our trip at Malabar beach, where we will discuss the different controls that result in different morphodynamics from Maroubra beach.

* The cost of the trips supports postgraduate students helping with the fieldtrip.

Please note that date and timing provided above are tentative and subject to change.

Centennial Park is one of Sydney’s most important green spaces and incorporates fragments of a once-extensive groundwater-fed wetland system that has its headwaters in the Park.  It was also, however, subject to intensive land use from the early 19th century and was reshaped as an ornamental parkland in the late 19th century.  In this context, remaining connections to the pre-Colonial landscape are indeed precious.  This genteel walking tour of Centennial Park will take in the remaining swamp fragments and consider the narratives surrounding their value and conservation.  We will discuss what physical geography can reveal about the ecological history of the site, and how governance structures create and reinforce landscape narratives throughout Sydney’s green and blue spaces.

Please note that date and timing provided above are tentative and subject to change.

No of participants: 30 maximum

This fieldtrip will build on the Sydney Urban Crew’s critical engagement with the socio-spatial and environmental transformations currently underway in our city. As such, the fieldtrip has two principal aims: to introduce and explore historical and ongoing infrastructural transformations along the Sydney waterfront, and discuss processes and sites of possession, dispossession and repossession. From Bennelong Point to Darling Harbour, we will explore questions such as: what do infrastructures mediate? Who do they work for? What do these sites and infrastructures tell us about the history and future of the city? And what historical and ongoing processes of dispossession and repossession do we see here?

*The cost of the fieldtrip will be used to support presentations by aboriginal curators, artists and activists.

Please note that date and timing provided above are tentative and subject to change.

Organising Committee


Book a stay in our spacious & newly refurbished Camperdown accommodation and enjoy proximity to the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s vibrant CBD with Rydges Camperdown. Visit the charming boutiques and restaurants that line Newtown’s lively King Street and enjoy the thrilling entertainment at the  ICC Sydney and Enmore Theatre.

Our well-appointed Camperdown accommodation options include spacious rooms with desirable amenities. Each of our 146 recently refurbished rooms includes an ensuite bathroom, LCD TV, FREE wireless Internet access, tea and coffee making facilities.

Guests can make bookings direct to hotel

1. Via Email:  reservations_rydgescamperdown@evt.com

Please quote Block Code GEO2021

2. Via Phone: +61 9516 1522

Please advise you are attending the conference at USYD and to quote Block Code GEO2021

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central are offering conference guest a discount of 20% off their best available rate.

To book please follow the link to their website and type in the Promo code SOG21 when finalising your booking.

If you have any questions please contact Julie Gibson at jgibson@adinahotels.com.au.








Veriu Broadway is available for contact from 08:00 – 20:00 Mon-Fri. To book discounted accommodation please send your booking request to groups@punthill.com.au or call  1300 964 821 and Veriu Broadway will respond to your enquiry as a matter of urgency.

Please state you are booking as part of IAG NZGS Conference Group.

All guests booking with our Veriu Central property as part of Browning and Lee’s Wedding party will receive the following:

  • 15% off Best Available 
  • Flexible cancellation Policy

For more information on the rooms available please go to the Veriu Broadway website

Budget accomodation options are located near Central station such as the YHA.

Presented by

Platinum sponsor

Logo of Mirvac



Silver sponsor

Bronze sponsor

Wiley Lecture sponsor

Logo of Wiley



Participation grant partner