Internationalising ICS

Western Sydney University is currently working on a framework for developing its international reputation and reach. It is timely to present a sample of the Institute for Culture and Society's research activities involving international research collaboration and exchange. This outward-looking approach includes recruitment of higher degree research students from across the globe, and support for our Australian students to do overseas research fieldwork, present their work at conferences in other countries, and visit universities and research organisations in many distant locations.

The Institute for Culture and Society has a strong international reputation built on collaborations and partnerships with researchers and institutions around the world, including jointly-funded research projects and co-publication.

Detailed below are just a few examples of the Institute's longstanding commitment to internationalising its research, research relationships and training.


Many of the Institute's research projects have an international focus, as listed below.

Australian Cultural Fields: National and Transnational Dynamics

The Australian Cultural Fields project is examining the forces changing the production and consumption of contemporary Australian culture, with a particular emphasis on how 'the national' is being deeply affected by transnational and global developments. The research team, led by Professor Tony Bennett, consists of researchers from ICS (Professors David Rowe, Greg Noble, Tim Rowse and Deborah Stevenson, and Associate Professor Emma Waterton); Emeritus Professor Graeme Turner, Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies and Professor David Carter, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland; as well as two international members, Professor Modesto Gayo, Escuela de Sociología at Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago Chile; and Professor Fred Myers, Department of Anthropology, New York University.

Cool Living Heritage in Southeast Asia: Sustainable Alternatives to Air-conditioned Cities

Professor Donald McNeill is working with Professor Tim Winter (Deakin University, formerly of ICS) and Associate Professor Johannes Widodo and Dr Jiat-Hwee Chang, National University of Singapore, researching alternatives to electronic air-conditioning to encourage more sustainable urban lifestyles in Southeast Asia. The Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, is a partner institution in this project.

Fans and air-conditioning units piled against a wall with fluro price notes on them. 

Governing Digital Cities

In this ARC Future Fellowship projectProfessor Donald McNeill is examining the development of 'digital cities' – highly advanced technological spaces for business and society. Using comparative international case study analysis (the digital cities of New York, London, Hong Kong and Barcelona), the research aims to close policy gaps between digital infrastructure strategy and urban planning in Australia with reference to international precedents.

Logistics as Global Governance: Labour, Software and Infrastructure Along the New Silk Road

Professor Brett Neilson and Professor Ned Rossiter from ICS are working with international researchers Professor Ursula Huws, Professor William Walters, Professor Ranabir Samaddar, ICS Adjunct, Associate Professor Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna, Italy), Dr Eleni Kambouri and Dr Hernan Cuevas to examine the cultural aspects of business logistics and governance practices.

China's New Silk Road is set to revolutionise relations of trade and production, linking Asia to Europe and Latin America. The research investigates the cultural and social transformations introduced by this emerging economic network. Focusing on three key infrastructural hubs (the ports of Piraeus, Greece; Valparaíso, Chile; and Kolkata, India), the project (opens in a new window)will advance understandings of how logistical processes manage labour forces and contribute to global governance.

Regular publications and overseas presentations are a result of the collaboration between the researchers involved in this project.

A ship loaded with shipping containers sits at port. 

Museum, Field, Metropolis, Colony: Practices of Social Governance

This project studies early twentieth-century museums in Australia, Europe, North America and New Zealand. It investigates the new relationships between museums, anthropological fieldwork and social governance that emerged over this period. The research team consists of Professor Tony Bennett, Dr Fiona Cameron and Dr Ben Dibley from ICS; Professor Nélia Dias (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal); Dr Ira Jacknis (University of California, Berkeley); Dr Rodney Harrison (UCL); and Dr Conal McCarthy (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand).

University of California, Berkeley; Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal; and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand are partner institutions in this project.

Strengthening Economic Resilience in Monsoon Asia

Strengthening Economic Resilience in Monsoon Asia is a new project which will bridge continents, disciplines, historical periods and traditional academic divides, to create a cross-regional diverse economic mapping of Monsoon Asia's 'hidden economic geography' and a cross-regional knowledge network in order to better understand how communities adapt and respond to crises. The research team, led by Professor Katherine Gibson, also includes Dr Lisa Law (Centre for Disaster Studies, James Cook University), Associate Professor Darlene Occeña Gutierrez (University of the Philippines) and Professor Nay Win Oo (University of Yangon).

Kolambugan coast - little wooden huts and piers above the water. Trees in the distance. A boat in the water.  

Other recent projects

Professor Katherine Gibson was awarded a Seed Grant by the International Social Science Council for the project Rebuilding Livelihoods to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change in Post-crisis Communities. Professor Gibson led a research team of 31 members including Dr Stephen Healy and ICS PhD students Isaac Lyne and Ethan Miller.

Professor Donald McNeill is part of a five-person international research team awarded a grant by the Qatar National Research Fund for the project Cool Living Heritage in Qatar: Sustainable Alternatives to Air-conditioned Urban Development. The project is led by Professor Tim Winter (Deakin University, formerly of ICS) and administered by University College London Qatar.

Dr Brett Bennett is working with Professor Tim Winter and Professor Lynn Meskell (Stanford University) on the ARC Discovery Project The Crisis in International Heritage Conservation in an Age of Shifting Global Power.

The flagship of heritage conservation, the world heritage system, faces multiple pressures and agendas that endanger sites and politicise decision-making at all levels, from local to global. This project focuses on four iconic sites - Abu Simbel, Angkor, Bagan and Sumatran Rainforests - and the world heritage system itself, to reveal how pressures have grown and shifted since World War II, how they operate at multiple scales and what new expertise might be introduced. It will produce a report for UNESCO and publications that include recommendations for solving challenges that threaten international heritage conservation today. 

Earlier projects include Culturalisation and Globalisation: Advancing Cultural Research in Sweden and Australia, which was funded by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) and involved a series of exchanges between ICS and researchers from Linkoping University, and produced two special issues of the journals Culture Unbound and Global Media Journal (Australian Edition).

The Community Economies Collective 

Dr Louise Crabtree, Professor Katherine Gibson, Dr Stephen Healy and Dr Ann Hill are members of the Community Economies Collective (opens in a new window), an international network of researchers who are producing new knowledge about community economies.

The Collective, established by JK Gibson-Graham (Professor Katherine Gibson and Professor Julie Graham), is an ongoing collaboration between academic and community researchers and activists in Australia, North America, Europe and South East Asia. It's goal is to theorise, discuss, represent and ultimately enact new visions of economy. By making multiple forms of economic life viable options for action, the Collective aims to open the economy to ethical debate around concerns such as: the survival needs of humans and earth others; the distribution of surplus that supports wellbeing now and in the future; encountering others via just transactions; enlarging and sharing our commons; and investing in futures that sustain us all.

ICS PhD students Ethan Miller and Joanne McNeill are also members of the Collective.

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Overseas Events

ICS researchers are regularly invited to present at overseas events. One example of strong international influence is Associate Professor Amanda Third's work on the rights of the child in a digital age. Amanda led an international research project drawing from interviews with young people in 16 countries around the world.

In September 2014, Amanda was invited to present the findings of this project to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland as it met to consider how to update the Convention on the Rights of the Child for the digital age. In March 2015, Amanda presented project findings at the ASEAN/UNICEF Child Online Protection Conference: Towards an Integrated Systems Approach in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

This year, five ICS members (Professor Katherine GibsonDr Stephen HealyProfessor Donald McNeill, Dr Catherine Phillips and Dr Dallas Rogers) and Endeavour Fellow Pablo Fuentenebro will attend the Association of American Geographers conference in Chicago as presenters, organisers, chairs and panelists. A new book co-edited by Professor Gibson, Making other worlds possible: performing diverse economies (opens in a new window), will be launched at the conference.

ICS encourages its researchers and research students to engage with significant international networks. For example, in 2012, Professors Ien Ang, David Rowe, James Arvanitakis and Tim Winter (now Deakin University) and research students Louise Ryan and Kearrin Sims travelled to Sweden to take part in the Cultures, Histories, Institutions: Knowledge Practices and Professional Encounters Workshop. 

Such activities are commonplace for ICS researchers.

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ICS Events

ICS regularly hosts international conferences and symposia that bring together researchers from across the world to discuss key innovations in cultural research. 

For example, in 2011 and 2014 ICS held, respectively, the Knowledge/Culture/Social Change and Knowledge/Culture/Economy International Conferences.

In 2012, it hosted the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) 19th Biennial Conference, which featured three keynote speakers from the National University of Singapore and Hanyang University, Seoul.

In March 2015, ICS organised the Globalisation, Modernity and Urban Change Conference in cooperation with the Vietnam National University – University of Social Sciences and Humanities (VNU-USSH), in Hanoi. This conference inaugurated collaboration between ICS and VNU-USSH. Professors Ien Ang, Paul James and Gay Hawkins presented at this event. 

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Formal Partnerships

ICS has a number of formal scholarly exchange programs with overseas institutions:

ICS researchers have worked closely with researchers in these institutions on research projects and have ongoing collaborations with them. 

Overseas Visitors

Each year, ICS hosts many international visiting scholars. During their time at ICS, visitors collaborate on research with ICS members and take part in ICS events such as the ICS Seminar Series.

In 2015, visitors include Cassim Shepard (Urban Omnibus, Architectural League of New York), Dr Martin Fredriksson (ACSIS, Sweden); UK-based member Professor Dick Hobbs; Adjunct Professor Yudhishthir Raj Isar (The American University of Paris); Dr Tara McGee (University of Alberta, Canada); Dr Andy Scerri (Virginia Tech, USA); Dr Alejandro Barranquero (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain).

ICS also has two Endeavour Fellowship Recipients visiting this year: Dr Nuala Morse and Dr Pablo Fuentenebro Alonso. The prestigious six-month long fellowships are awarded to high achieving applicants to conduct post-doctoral research. Dr Morse (PhD, Durham University, UK) is working with community engagement practitioners in museums and heritage sites in Sydney to provide a close examination of the practice of engagement in Australia. Dr Fuentenebro Alonso (PhD, UCLA) is working on a comparative study of arts philanthropy and urban redevelopment in Sydney and Los Angeles.

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HDR Students and International Exchanges

Around 20 of the Institute's 50 HDR students are from outside Australia, including new students from Italy, USA, India, Russia, Turkey, Mexico and Argentina.

The Institute encourages its students to take part in international exchanges and fieldwork overseas.

ICS Postgraduate International Exchanges

ICS supports several schemes of international exchange which are designed to allow ICS HDR students to visit overseas research institutions with which the ICS has established relationships. In 2015, candidates can apply to visit the Graduate Festival at Goldsmiths College (opens in a new window), London and the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden(opens in a new window) at Linköping University. 

Postgraduate exchanges deepen the international research networks of ICS, encourage collaborative projects with overseas researchers, build international research partnerships, and increase the international profile of ICS students while giving them the chance to gain international research experience.

Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden

The Institute's exchange scheme with the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden (ACSIS) at Linköping University allows ICS postgraduate students to visit Sweden and participate in events at ACSIS. Similarly, ACSIS students visit Australia and take part in ICS events designed for higher degree researchers.

Goldsmiths Graduate Festival, London

ICS supports HDR students to attend the Goldsmiths Graduate Festival (under the auspices of The University of London) which showcases a rich variety of work and provides an unequalled opportunity for international networking.

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