ICS Seminar Series

Next Seminar

Date: Thursday 26 October 2017
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: EZ.G.23, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus

Louise Crabtree, Simone Fullagar, Stephen Healy and Paul James

(Institute for Culture and Society and University of Bath)

Thinking in Common: Resilience

Event Overview

In this thinking-in common session we explore the concept of resilience.  Resilience is a term with a long history and diffuse origins. Arising in engineering, ecology, and psychology in the 1970s, resilience is generally defined as the capacity for materials, ecosystems or individuals to persist in the face of stress. More recently this term has come to circulate across numerous disciplines from economics to health to considerations of infrastructure. As the concept has spread it has moved from being a suite of measurable properties to a politically potent metaphor and, increasingly, a political objective in many policies and programs. As appeals to ‘become resilient’ or ‘build resilience’ proliferate it is an open question as to whether or not the term has reached its ‘use by date’. Could resilience be following in the footsteps of other terms like sustainability to diversity by becoming increasingly empty and vacuous? Or does it still have political traction and policy potential as a rallying term for new approaches to pressing contemporary concerns? Can appeals to resilience become a sort of shorthand for celebrating individuals’ and communities’ capacity to adapt to rapid change—from digital disruption to extreme weather to rising inequality and precarity? And what is the effect of these celebrations of resilience – do they distract from the impacts of ecological, economic, political and cultural change or foreground them? This panel explores how the concept of resilience and its complex uses and effects might be recovered.  Can resilience provide a way of describing other and better economies, politics, cities and forms of caring for people and places in these dark times?


Dr Louise Crabtree

Resilience has an increasingly jaded reputation. This paper will focus on interpretations of resilience based in ecology and complex adaptive systems, arguing that adaptive comanagement and commoning offer pertinent and defensible models for governing resilient systems. The paper will draw research into housing as informed by this framework to argue there remains potential for resilience as an enabling concept.

Dr Louise Crabtree is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of Engagement at the Institute for Culture and Society. Her research includes housing, sustainability, and governance.

Professor Simone Fullagar

Does resilience offer a hopeful politics for addressing mental health issues or does it perpetuate ‘cruel optimism’ (Lauren Berlant) through a preoccupation with restoring a humanist self? With respect to gendered patterns of depression, resilience thinking urges individual women to adapt to cultural life where inequities and affective relations enable distress to flourish. Alternatively, material feminism offers to reorient our thinking through a relational understanding of recovery-transformation as an ongoing material, affective and discursive entanglement.

Professor Simone Fullagar is an interdisciplinary sociologist and Professor, Physical Culture, Sport and Health at the University of Bath, UK. Her research explores the embodied politics of gender, physical cultures, health and wellbeing through material feminist and post-structuralist perspectives. She is writing a new book - A Vital Politics of Depression and Recovery.

Dr Stephen Healy 

Can the concept of resilience be redeemed? Organisations committed to practices of careful cooperation allows for an affirmative response and a different understanding. NORCO is a 125-year-old dairy cooperative in Lismore, NSW.  In the past twenty years it has used the principles of cooperation to improve its position in the context of a volatile economy and ecology.  Key to success are Care-full relations with members, employees in three manufacturing plants, and the greater community.

Dr Stephen Healy is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and society and a founding member of the Community Economy Research Network.

Professor Paul James

‘Resilience’ has become all the rage in describing cities and communities. Organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation set out in good faith to contribute to a positive theme concern urban practice. Unfortunately, the term has become one-dimensional and reductive. It is now too often associated with the comfortable deferral of state and corporate responsibility for supporting recovery from difficulty and disaster. Instead of positive resilience, we now increasing defer to the capacity of those suffering to find it in themselves to recover.

Professor Paul James is an editor of Arena Journal and author or editor of 34 books including Nation Formation (Sage) and Globalism, Nationalism, Tribalism (Sage).

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ICS Seminar Series - Sonia Livingstone

Date: Thursday 7 September ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Greg Noble and Sherene Idriss

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ICS Seminar Series - Simon Chambers, Pryor Placino and Oznur Sahin

Date: Thursday 24 August ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Tanja Dreher

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ICS Seminar Series - George Morgan

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ICS Seminar Series - Michael Herzfeld

Date: Thursday 3 August ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Brett Bennett

Date: Thursday 27 July ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Jillian Comber

Date: Thursday 20 July ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Thinking in Common

Date: Thursday 15 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Karen Soldatic

Date: Thursday 8 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Luke Munn

Date: Thursday 1 June ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Ruth Lane

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ICS Seminar Series - Cammi Webb-Gannon and Michael Webb

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ICS Seminar Series - Andrea Pollio and Ilia Antenucci

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ICS Seminar Series - Katherine Gibson

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ICS Seminar Series - Donald McNeill

Date: Thursday 27 April ...Read more.

ICS Seminar Series - Cameron Tonkinwise

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ICS Seminar Series - Xiang Ren

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Feature Video

Watch Professor Ien Ang’s seminar presentation on Navigating Complexity: From Cultural Critique to Cultural Intelligence, which formed part of a special issue of the journal Continuum.

Three students listening to a seminar presentation.Seminar audience listening to a seminar presentation.

Handel Wright presenting at the ICS Seminar Series.

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