I am founding co-director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability - an inter- and trans-disciplinary research hub that endeavours to shape new thinking and practice around three core streams: development; sustainability; nonprofit management & leadership.
I hold several discipline-specific roles including:
* University Chair, Research for Development Impact Network, governed by the Australian Council for International Development
* Founding executive committee member, Development Studies Association of Australia
* Deputy Editor in Chief, Development in Practice, a Taylor & Francis journal
I’m interested in the relationship between anthropology and development, particularly how development practices shape and influence social and cultural behaviours. Much of my research these days pertains to gender and rural livelihoods employing participatory research methodologies; I am interested in how development ‘beneficiaries’ experience, embrace and subvert development interventions. Another research interest of late, centres around the intersections between agricultural and mining—particularly the lived experiences of remote and rural communities living adjacent to extractive activities.
My research embodies my commitment to the application of anthropological knowledge to development practice emphasising participatory processes. I draw on my cross-cultural expertise to inform my research with the intention of shaping local development practices. My strengths lie in applying participatory approaches to the design, implementation and evaluation of development projects that help to inform technical expertise, programming and policy. In this way, my research has significant applied real-world outcomes by informing the development policy and processes of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector, government, and development agencies to ensure the inclusion of local perspectives in development.
My rural livelihoods research in Africa focuses on elements such as the decisions that smallholder farmers, pastoralists and livestock herders make about their crops, animals and land. My interest is in how these choices by poor farmers are constrained by lack of access to services, markets, credit, poor governance, weak policies, ethnic/gender/cultural/educational barriers, and political instability resulting in few options to maintain secure, or sustainable food production in the face of crises, climate change, or resource extraction.
Over the past two decades, I have worked and researched with a number of NGOs including the British Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Oxfam Australia, Global Exchange, Catholic Relief Services Southern Africa and Nuwul Environmental Services – an Indigenous social enterprise in northeast Arnhem Land, Australia.
Currently, I lecture undergraduate units in international aid and sustainable development and postgraduate units in the Masters of Development Studies. My teaching concerns the role of agency in development processes and the structural inequalities that lead to uneven and unequal development. Students learn critical skills in analysing how development discourses and practices shape the everyday lives of marginalised people, that often have unintended consequences, both positive and negative. They learn about power relations and how to bring about change. We explore sustainable development approaches for living within a safe and equitable operating space of the planetary boundaries in the Anthropocene. I supervise Masters research theses across a number of Masters programmes and a cohort of PhD projects in various topics pertaining to processes and practices of development.