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  • Featured Member Profile: Michelle Peterie

    Posted on October 17, 2017

    Today’s featured member profile comes from the fantastic Michelle Peterie, take it away Michelle!

    Member: Michelle Peterie

    What are you researching?

    My thesis compares the experiences of volunteers who support asylum seekers in Australian immigration detention facilities with those of volunteers who support asylum seekers in the community. In doing so, it foregrounds the impact of carceral technologies not only on detained asylum seekers, but also on the volunteers who support them.

    Australia’s detention regime has received considerable academic attention in recent years, but few scholars have examined the experiences of volunteers. We know that immigration detention causes profound harm to those who are detained. My study builds on this research, highlighting the Kafkaesque mechanisms through which detention centres harm asylum seekers, and showing how these technologies extend to negatively impact volunteers.


    What drew you to this topic?

    I work in the sociology of emotion, and I came to my thesis topic via the idea of ‘compassion’. I’d previously done research concerning the Australian government’s asylum seeker discourses, and had become interested in the model of compassion that these discourses employed. It seemed to me that while conservative appeals to compassion (“saving lives at sea” etc) had been critiqued by scholars, progressive appeals were also problematic because they constructed asylum seekers as helpless victims while Australia was cast as saviour. I decided to study asylum seeker support programs because I wanted to see if and how this dynamic played out in (or was contested by) the personal relationships that these programs involved. When I began the fieldwork for my project, it soon became clear that the detention centre environment distorted and to some extent collapsed the whole notion of empowered care ‘givers’ and disempowered care ‘receivers’, as both asylum seekers and volunteers were subject to psychological violence. My fieldwork thus led me to consider larger questions regarding state power, institutional affect and institutional design. It’s these questions that are now the focus of my study.


    What have been the highlights of your PhD journey?

    Early in my candidature, someone told me that a PhD was an apprenticeship to become a researcher. It was great advice. Since then, I’ve worked a few days each week as a research assistant and have project managed an ARC Linkage Project; I’ve been involved in organising and running an international emotions conference, plus a couple of smaller events and workshops; I’ve done some research consultancy work for a third-sector organisation; I’m in the process of co-editing a Routledge book with some colleagues; and I currently co-convene TASA’s Emotions and Affect thematic group. It’s been busy to say the least, but my candidature has been so much richer because of these extra activities and because of the generous people who have mentored me through them.


    What do you wish you had known before you started?

    One of the most importance lessons that I’ve learnt during my candidature concerns the value of academic community. Prior to commencing my PhD, I didn’t appreciate what an important role my friends and colleagues would play in helping me to develop as a scholar, and in making the whole research process sustainable.


    What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting post graduate study?

    To pass on the advice that was given to me, doctoral study isn’t just about writing a thesis, it’s also about becoming a well-rounded researcher. I would encourage new candidates to find mentors, and to seek out opportunities to do all of those things that academics do: write articles, present at conferences, organise events, give public lectures, liaise with industry, apply for grants, do admin, teach. The wonderful thing about this approach is that it embeds you in and allows you to learn from a community of researchers. It also provides valuable perspective regarding your own work, and regarding what it means to be a professional researcher.

    In addition, I would encourage new candidates to choose a thesis topic that they find compelling and meaningful. Regardless of how much you do and how skilled you become, there are no guarantees in the academic job market. As such, I think it’s important to research something that – irrespective of the career outcomes – will have been worth three-and-a-half years of your life.


    What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?

    My idea of a riotous good time is a yoga/dance class, a SUP lesson, a picnic at the beach, or an evening in discussing life and politics. My procrasti-baking game is also strong.


  • Featured Member Profile: Andrew Hammond

    Posted on August 18, 2017

    Today’s featured member profile comes from the fabulous Andrew Hammond, take it away Andrew!


    Member: Andrew Hammond

    What are you researching?

    I research policy, politics and governance in the areas of sport, disability and education in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. I draw primarily on historical and sociological perspectives to inform my work. My doctoral project focuses explicitly on the relationship between disability and inclusion social policy and sports coaching practices.


    What drew you to this topic?

    In my opinion, history and memory are essential to good policy making. Aside from being interested in why coaches and clubs weren’t including more people with a disability in ‘mainstream’ settings, I realised that the exclusion of acutely marginalised groups in sport has been a ‘wicked’ policy agenda that policy makers have been trying to ‘solve’ for some time. Not much is known in the literature about the effectiveness of previous initiatives. Additionally, I noticed through my own employment in the sports industry that people only occupy roles momentarily (I would imagine this is not an exclusive problem to sport). There is, therefore, a large churn and turnover of people in sport in paid and voluntary positions and I realised that there was a very real danger, that many people working within these organisations- might not remember a time when things were any different. Therefore, I’m deeply engaged in my research as I believe it has the potential to inform future policy decisions so finite resources (money and time) are not spent on initiatives that have been proven to have been ineffective in the past.


    What have been the highlights of your RhD journey?

    A key highlight has been my recent publication of a paper that was accepted by the International Journal of Sport History that examines the federal government’s involvement in disability sport. Togeather with one of my supervisors and TASA colleague Dr Ruth Jeanes, we drew on the critical disability studies concept of ableism to evaluate the continuities and shifts that have occurred in policymaking since the early 1980s. We were particularly concerned with the decline in the federal government’s involvement in coach education. It is great to get your ideas out there in print and to see what others think.


    What do you wish you had known before you started?

    That as a PhD student you need to be comfortable with failure and setbacks but my advice is don’t get too hung up on the negatives, there is more to life than work and scholarship. Making friends with people who are members of groups like TASA helps with this, it is important to remember we all share remarkably similar experiences with regards to success and failure in academia and an empathetic ear is often closer then you think.


    What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting postgraduate study?

    Network, network and network (join TASA and attend the conferences sooner rather than later).


    What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?

    At present, in addition to researching, I also have the privilege of using sociology to inform my voluntary work in sport. For instance, I sit on Swimming Australia’s coach accreditation and development advisory committee where I contribute to the development of coaching policy. I like this because it reminds me of the real world value of sociology and reminds me why I started studying the discipline in the first place. It reminds me that the ideas of Foucault, Weber and Latour are not all that abstract and have real world relevance. Otherwise, I’m hanging out at the markets and when I’m not doing that, I enjoy a good glass of wine or a pint of beer at one Melbournes many bars. I also still swim most days.


    Thanks Andrew! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop me an email at


  • Updated list: TASA Thematic Group events **Postgrad Scholarships Available**

    Posted on July 20, 2017

    Hello TASA Postgrads!

    I thought I’d draw your attention to a few of the upcoming events organised by TASA’s Thematic Groups that happen to be offering travel bursaries for some of their Postgrad and ECR participants. This is a fabulous opportunity to engage with new research in your field while easing the financial burden often attached to attending academic events!

    1. Emotions and Social Theory: Reflexivity, Critique and Structure : a collaborative workshop organised by the TASA Social Theory TG and the Contemporary Emotions Research Network (UOW) is offering 2x $300 bursaries. Keynote Speakers: Professor Jack Barbalet, Dr Mary Holmes, Professor Rob Stones. CFP Due 18th August, Event is @ University of Wollongong Friday 24th November, 2017.
    2. Chasms and Bridges: Religion and Secularity in a Polarised World  : One day symposium with Keynote lectures from Professor Marion Maddox and Associate Professor Alpha Possamai-Inesedy offering 8 bursaries of up to $150. Expressions of interest due 18th August, Event is @ Western Sydney University City Campus on 29th September, 2017.
    3. Politics and Crime Control in the 21st Century: Controversies and Challenges : A one day symposium organised by the TASA Crime and Governance TG, offering 8x $300 bursaries. Speaker: Eileen Baldry. CFP due August 4, Event is @ UoN Sydney Campus, 22nd September, 2017.
    4. Development for Species: Animals in Society, animals as society : A two day symposium organised by the TASA Sociology & Animals TG & Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, offering 3x$150 bursaries. Keynote Speakers: Associate Professor Nik Taylor & Professor Maneesha Deckha. CFP due August 4, Event is @ Deakin University, Melbourne City Campus 18-19th September, 2017.
    5. 2017 TASA Health Day: A one day event organised by the TASA Health TG offering 5x$150 travel bursaries. Speakers include Professor Katherine Boydell, Associate Professor Kylie Valentine, and Honorary Associate Professor Toni Schofield. CFP due July 19th, Event is @ UNSW Sydney 13th October, 2017.

    Missed any? Let me know here.

    Until next time,


    Blog Editor


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