ICS Seminar Series

Next Seminar

Date: Thursday 20 September 2018
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EZ.G.23, Conference Room 1 (Female Orphan School), Western Sydney University Parramatta South campus

Contested Spaces

HDR Panel -  Francesca Sidoti,  Alejandra Villanueva and Cali Prince

Discussant: Kate Naidu


Francesca Sidoti: “Finding Your Place” in Katoomba, NSW: Emplaced Young Adulthood as a Contested Space

Young adulthood can be constructed as a time of “finding your place”. While this is often understood as having ontological and developmental implications, this paper explores the material and geographic consequences of young adulthood in Katoomba, New South Wales (NSW). Drawing on data from an ongoing doctoral thesis, this paper examines Katoomba, NSW, as experienced and practiced by young adults. I use this data to problematize the concept of ‘place’ and its relationship to young adulthood. This paper argues that young adult emplacement is a contested space. Here, the constructions of young adults as placeless and autonomous of their environment intersect in complex ways with young adult lives in place.

Alejandra Villanueva: CrossFit: A Primal Experience in Semi-Industrial Spaces

In the last decade, Sydney has witnessed the proliferation of gyms and different modalities of training in the fitness industry. These range from 24/7 corporate gyms to different forms of personalized training, ‘boutique gyms’ and other niche markets. Drawing on an ethnographic study of selected CrossFit gyms in Sydney, this paper explores the meanings that lie behind the discourse on training and diet that is promoted by the CrossFit industry. What are these particular gyms offering to people and what are people looking for in these places? I argue that in the performance of certain fitness practices, the adoption of specific diets, the particular location of these gyms and its layouts, people are searching for connections with their primal self that they have lost in a predominantly post-industrial society.

Cali Prince: Sensory Poetic Gateways and Contested Spaces

Light falls upon the land 
Poetry bleeds the hidden parts
Singing back the bones

(Author’s ethnographic journal June 2018).

As a practice led researcher, undertaking qualitative research, I found a powerful gateway into my own and research participant experiences and chosen metaphors, through sensory and poetic relationship mapping. I inquire into metaphorical and liminal spaces that exist in-between participants in the collaborative creative process. The poetic layer within this approach became a way of reaching these in - between and hard to reach spaces. I experimented with auto-ethnographic poetry, and ‘found’ poetry in conversations with research participants. I layered these words into sensory and relationship maps. I call this experimental methodological approach ‘Sensory Poetic Relationship Mapping’ (SPRM). This methodological approach reveals unexpected connections in the relationships between people and places, across time and space, which often remain unseen. These are intangible and therefore problematic to gather, measure and evaluate by linear methods. Through exploration of the fertile ground where sensory ethnography and ethnographically based poetry intersect: liminal and metaphorical spaces, places, gateways, sites of inquiry and counter factual spaces come into being, offering potential individual and collective learning and transformation. The contested space/s that were revealed in this process will be further unpacked and explored.


Francesca Sidoti is completing her PhD at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She is interested in the relationship between place and young adulthood, and her thesis investigates this through an in-depth study of young adulthood in the regional town of Katoomba, NSW.

Alejandra Villanueva is a PhD student at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She studies the cultural significance of gym culture in the configurations of male identity in Sydney.

Cali Prince has more than 20 years of professional practice in collaborative arts – in community based and local government settings, and has won several awards. She is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, and she is conducting research on the potential for transformation in the collaborative creative process located at the intersection of people with their communities, artists and institutions.

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Handel Wright presenting at the ICS Seminar Series.

Handel Wright presents at the ICS Seminar Series. The photo shows attendees sitting around table.