Category Archives: PhD

And here it is:

The legality of mining in Australia hinges on the assumption that many of the environmental impacts of mining will be addressed via adequate rehabilitation once mining ceases. Currently, rehabilitation is viewed as a technical process (albeit with ethical drivers), which can be objectively assessed against primarily ecological and biophysical criteria. Philosophical explorations in the field of restoration ecology, however, recognise that restoration is value laden and that different stakeholders may perceive success of restored landscapes differently given how they value and utilise landscapes (Higgs 1997; Rogers-Martinez 1992). If restoration agendas are driven by social norms then restored landscapes must be viewed as cultural products resultant from particular worldviews (Edgar 2007). But as Kirsch (2001) asks in relation to landscapes transformed by mining; what kind of places are these? How do Aboriginal people make sense of rehabilitated landscapes and rehabilitation processes based on their own ecological and cosmological understandings? Do rehabilitated landscapes address the social, political and spiritual concerns expressed by Aboriginal people whose land has been impacted by mining? To answer these questions involves an analysis of the goals and desires that Aboriginal people hold for their land post mining and the criteria against which they would assess rehabilitated landscapes as meeting these aspirations. This itself requires an analysis of the processes in which elements of a group’s ethnoecology are brought into play within the intercultural and political context of mine-community relationships.

Making it work

We may have finally worked out a system that allows me to get enough solid PhD hours under my belt and still get to be a mum and do all the things I want/need to do around here. This may not sound like a big deal to some. In fact I’m constantly amazed at other women who manage to juggle more kids and more responsibilities than me. But for me (and J) it is a big deal because we have kind of failed in the past. And besides – it feels great and empowering at this stage to see that it just may be possible to achieve everything we are aiming for.

The plan is simple. I wake up early, disentangle myself from Lil I, make a pot of coffee and a thermos of tea, grab the laptop and disappear into Granma’s caravan for 5 hours. I’m aiming to wake up at 5 but it’s been more like 6-6.30 due to various factors (mostly Lil’ I induced lack of sleep). I feel so productive anyway. The rest of the hours needed to fill the 40hr/wk quota I attempt to make IMGP7238up in the afternoons or evenings. But really I’m not that worried. I feel like the 5 hours I do are hyper-productive because they have to be. I’m not a PhD student asleep at my desk or wasting time on facebook. Any distraction that pops into my head during this time, mostly garden related, I jot down on a piece of paper to address after ‘school’.

Like I said it’s not an out of this world strategy. But it is ground breaking for us.  The whole time we were in Melbourne I struggled to get enough study done. J was either working, or recovering from a late shift or there was some housework that urgently needed doing or the guilty lure of getting Lil’ I out of the suburban house and doing ‘things’. For some reason it feels really brave to write that. Admitting that we don’t have everything together and that sometimes (often?) we suck at life. It reminds me of this post by Clean about the tendency for people to crop out the messier parts of their lives on blogs and social media – which is kind of shitty because it leaves others (me) feeling inadequate.

For us, part of the problem has always been that my most efficient working window is in the morning and J really struggles with mornings. And of course mornings in our house are no longer just cups of tea and cigarettes for him. No. We have a toddler that needs things and who doesn’t understand that mornings are sacrosanct and who will ask/whinge/argue about anything at any time. But god bless him (J) he is getting better (awesome even) and I can, finally, picture what doing my PhD will look like.

And it makes me really happy. Like anything – when you are achieving things you feel good. So at this moment, right now, I am happier than I can remember being in a long time. We have so many things to be grateful for – not least being that we are both working towards our future in ways that are tangible and valued by both of us. Me trying to further my academic career with an eye for future consultative work and J building our future (and current) home/haven.

And what can be better than a sunny winters day, reading about intercultural capacity deficiency (yeah that does it for me – not because a deficiency of intercultural capacity exists – but that someone is writing about it), and basking in the sunlight and sounds of father and son building a swing as they filter through the caravan curtains.