Dr Leah M. GIBBS
My research focuses on the cultures and politics of nature. In particular, I am interested in the following themes:
1. cultural geographies of nature, especially water;
2. environmental governance;
3. politics of environmental knowledge production; and
4. multi-disciplinary research methodologies.
1. More-than-human encounters
Two projects consider the cultures and politics of more-than-human encounters.
This work considers the politics of species belonging. In collaboration with Drs Jennifer Atchison and Ingereth Macfarlane we are examining the conditions under which camels are deemed to belong (or not) in the Australian landscape. We are concerned with the specific circumstances under which species exist, and how these circumstances guide thinking and practice towards feral and native species management.
This collaborative project with Dr Andrew Warren is concerned with the response to human encounters with sharks. We are investigating the political implications of environmental decisions; in particular the recent changes in the Western Australia government’s shark management policy. Read our piece in The Conversation: ‘Who’s Hunting Who: misguided responses to shark attacks’.
2. Arts-science collaboration and embodied research methods
This project focuses on my involvement as a participant in SiteWorks – a series of ongoing projects facilitated by Bundanon Trust. SiteWorks involves visual and performing artists, scientists, other scholars and local people developing collaborative site-based works in response to the Bundanon properties on the Shoalhaven River. My work focuses on the possibilities presented by arts-science collaboration, and embodied research methods. Watch this video in conversation with artist Barbara Campbell at Bundanon as part of SiteWorks 2011.
SiteWorks 2010 (Photo Heidrun Löhr)
3. Water governance
Within this theme I am currently working on two projects.
‘Australian water governance in an era of climate change’
Water is one of the major challenges for contemporary Australia. Global climate change promises to make decision-making about water an even greater challenge. Around the world, we are witnessing a shift in environmental decision-making from ‘government’ to ‘governance’, suggesting a far greater degree of participation by a range of non-government institutions and members of the public. This project investigates who participates in Australian water governance, what mechanisms enable or present barriers to participation, and how participation may be shaped by climate change and climate change discourse. This project is funded by a UOW URC Small Grant.
‘Environmental knowledge production and water governance in the global south’
This project investigates the extent to which diverse systems of environmental knowledge are acknowledged and accommodated in water governance in Tanzania. It analyses the role of northern discourses in southern environmental governance, and the practical and political implications of environmental knowledge production in the context of environmental change. The project is funded by a Royal Geographical Society – Institute of British Geographers Small Research Grant.
Fishing boats at Lake Nyumba ya Mungu, northern Tanzania
4. Valuing water
This ongoing research examines current approaches to valuing water within natural resource management, the values that people attribute to water, and the gap that exists between the two. It draws on research in the Lake Eyre Basin, central Australia, and brings together cultural research methods and institutional analysis. The research contributes to recent society-nature discourse, and engages with an interdisciplinary literature of human interactions with nature. Current writing focuses on the agency of water.
Coongie Lakes, eastern central Australia
Peer-reviewed journal articles
Gibson, C. and Gibbs, L.M. Forthcoming Social media experiments: scholarly practice and collegiality. Dialogues in Human Geography
Gibbs, L.M. Forthcoming Arts-science collaboration, embodied research methods, and the politics of belonging: ‘SiteWorks’ and the Shoalhaven River, Australia. cultural geographies. Abstract
Gibbs, L.M. 2013. Bottles, bores, and boats: agency of water assemblages in post/colonial inland Australia. Environment and Planning A, v.45 (2), 467-484. doi: 10.1068/a45107
Gibbs, L.M. 2010. "A beautiful soaking rain": environmental value and water beyond Eurocentrism. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, v.28 (2), 363-378. doi:10.1068/d9207
Gibbs, L.M. 2010. Book review "Troubled Waters: confronting the water crisis in Australia's cities" by Patrick Troy (Ed.). Urban Studies, v.47 (1), 222-224. doi:10.1177/00420980100470011105
Gibbs, L.M. 2009. Just add water: colonisation, water governance and the Australian inland. Environment and Planning A, v.41 (12), 2964-2983. doi:10.1068/a41214
Gibbs, L.M. 2009. Water places: cultural, social and more-than-human geographies of nature. Scottish Geographical Journal, v.125 (3-4, Special Issue: Glasgow Geography Centenary), 361-369. doi:10.1080/14702540903364393
Gibbs, L.M. 2009. Book review "Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: environmental history and French colonial expansion in North Africa" by Diana K. Davis. Land Degradation & Development, v.20 (3), 347-348. doi:10.1002/ldr.890
Stringer, L.C., Twyman, C. and Gibbs, L.M. 2008. Learning from the South: common challenges and solutions for small-scale farming. Geographical Journal, v.174 (3), 235-250. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2008.00298
Gibbs, L.M. 2006. Valuing Water: variability and the Lake Eyre Basin, central Australia. Australian Geographer, v.37 (1), 73-85. doi:10.1080/00049180500511988
Gibbs, L.M. 2003. Decolonising, multiplicities and mining in the Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia. Australian Geographical Studies, v.41 (1), 17-28. doi:10.1111/1467-8470.00189
Non peer-reviewed articles: popular writing, reports etc.
Gibbs, L. 2012 Water and the politics of environmental knowledge Conversations with AUSCCER 28th August
Gibbs, L. and Warren, A. 2012 Who’s hunting who? Misguided responses to shark attacks The Conversation 21st August
Gibbs, L. 2012 The matter of water Conversations with AUSCCER 6th August
Gibbs, L. 2012 ‘Engaging Tactics’ – how we do what we do Conversations with AUSCCER 12th June
Gibbs, L. 2000 Social impact research and base-line data collection Consultation report, Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation
EESC208/215 Environmental Impact of Societies
EESC308/918 Environmental and Heritage Management
Honours Co-ordinator (role shared with A/Prof. Chris Fergusson)
Charlie Gillon (PhD) ‘Human/Nonhuman relations in suburban estates’ Co-supervised with Chris Gibson (UOW)
Nicholas Skilton (PhD) ‘Standing On The Outside Looking In: Peripheral economies of Australia's FIFO experience’ Co-supervised with Chris Gibson (UOW)
Ursula King (MSc) ‘A flourishing community? How has the aquaponics garden impacted the lives of residents in the Basin View, NSW, aged care facility?’ Co-supervised with Alison Wicks (UCan)
Katie O’Neal (MEnvSc) ‘Critical analysis of coastal management legislative frameworks: barriers and opportunities for the uptake of science’. Co-supervised with Debora de Freitas and Richard Kenchington (UOW)
Jonathon Cook (BSc Hons) ‘Household water values: everyday practices and climate change’
Carrie Wilkinson (BSc Hons) ‘People that watch birds’. Co-supervised with Gordon Waitt (UOW)
Nicholas Skilton (BSc Hons, 2012) ‘Conflict in common: heritage making in Cape York’. Co-supervised with Michael Adams (UOW)
Andrew Wilbur (PhD, 2012) ‘Seeding alternatives: Back-to-the-land migration and alternative agro-food networks in Northern Italy’. Co-supervised with Jo Sharp (University of Glasgow) and Jane Jacobs (University of Edinburgh)
Jacqueline McKinnon (BSc Hons, 2011) ‘It’s not easy being orange: exploring NSW State Emergency Service volunteer attitudes and practices towards nature’
Annalee Moes (BSc Hons, 2011) ‘Map-making methods: young people and the Shoalhaven River’
Suggested topics for future students
I welcome students interested in working in the area of the cultures and politics of nature.
June 2010– Lecturer, University of Wollongong
February 2007–May 2010 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK
August 2006–January 2007 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK
2006 PhD, Australian National University
1999 BSc(Hons), Macquarie University
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