Borders and Diversity

Program Co-Convenors: Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson and Dr Sukhmani Khorana

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The Borders and Diversity Research Program conducts critical social inquiry on contemporary cultural diversity and the intensifying presence of borders that govern labour, life and movement. Conditions of ‘uneven globalisation’, including the current global pandemic, are radically shifting our capacities to move across various social and political boundaries, as well as our existing practices of diversity and inclusion at local, national and transnational scales. The growing momentum of campaigns such as BLM, recognition of Indigenous sovereignty through decolonisation approaches, and climate change displacement further point to critical ruptures in the logic of internal and external borders. These ruptures suggest that the future of most polities is reliant on a deeper understanding of border regimes, and a more meaningful implementation of cultural diversity principles.

The Program is oriented around two core questions. First, how to assess and grow the value of cultural diversity in a range of community and institutional settings? Second, how to understand social, cultural and political life under emerging border regimes that condition geography, politics, culture and society? Drawing on interdisciplinary methods across cultural studies, sociology, geography and communication and media studies, our researchers have extensive expertise in conducting research with culturally and linguistically diverse populations across a number of strategic contexts, including education, housing, technology practice, refugee and migrant settlement, diversity in media representation and urban and community planning. We work with national and international partner organisations and end-users in policy, social services, education, health, technology and the media on projects that amplify institutional and community impact and cross-sector knowledge translation.

Current major projects include: evaluation of civic engagement of Chinese communities across three Sydney local government areas; barometer surveys of refugee settlement and belonging across NSW; comparative analysis of family approaches to Australian education across ethnic groups; and exploration of the capacity of AI consumer technology for social inclusion at the intersection of disability and cultural diversity.