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Associate Professor Michelle Duffy

Associate Professor

School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Career Summary



Michelle is Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Newcastle. Prior to this she worked as a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Federation (Gippsland) and Monash (Gippsland) Universities, and Lecturer in Australian Studies, Australian Indigenous Studies and Human Geography at the University of Melbourne. Prior to her academic career she was employed at CSL Ltd in Bacteriology R&D and then as an immunochemist at ICI.

Michelle graduated with a PhD in Cultural Geography from the University of Melbourne in 2001, and she holds BA (Honours), BMus (Honours) and BApplied Science.

Membership of academic committees and boards

  • Member of Steering Committee for newly formed research network, AusMob (, which focused on mobilities research in Australia across the social sciences and humanities
  • Editorial board membership

         Social and Cultural Geography 2009-2016 (ranked 13/76 in Geography) 2009-2016

         Gender Place and Culture 2014 - (ranked 9/39 in Women’s Studies and 37/76 in Geography) 2010- present


Key words:

Place, community, identity, emotion, affect, sound, culture, embodiment, belonging, alienation, public space, events, resilience, mobilities


Sound and music play an important but often overlooked role in our everyday lives. My work in this area covers a range of topics, including the performance of music and listening practices. More recently I have developed methodological frameworks (with Gordon Waitt, Theresa Harada, and Michael Gallagher) to better understand how listening draws attention to the ways in which we are constituted through and embedded in place. This exploration also opens up ways to access the emotional, affective and bodily responses that go on to constitute feelings of wellbeing, inclusion, connection and exclusion.

Research projects include


Images of Home: Children’s Creative Response to the Changing Landscape of Officer VicHealth Technology, Arts and Social Connections Scheme (TASC)


Michelle Duffy, Dean Merlino, Angela Grant

Brief description

The aim of the project was to offer children aged between ten and twelve the opportunity to explore meanings of ‘home’ in the rapidly changing environment of Melbourne’s peri-urban fringe. In developing the project the underlying argument was that when people are asked to be attentive to the sounds of their daily lives, very diverse personal, emotional and affective sets of social relationships can be uncovered, and that these are underpinned by values attached to both lived and imagined notions of home. 

Indicative publications/ presentations

Duffy, M (2016) Re-sounding place and mapping the affects of sound, in T Leppänen, P, Moisala, M Tiainen & H Väätäinen (eds) Becoming with Music and Sound: Musicking Deleuze and Guattari Bloomsbury

Duffy, M (2016) ‘The Listening ‘I’: Children’s emotional and affective representations of place’ in S Gair & A van Luyn (eds) Sharing qualitative research: Showing lived experiences and community narratives, Routledge; pp. 96-109

Duffy, M (2012) The requirement of having a body Geographical Research 51(2): 130-136


Making sense of climate change: Home, community engagement and a sensory approach Small Grant Research Support Scheme, Monash Gippsland, awarded 2012


Michelle Duffy, Gordon Waitt, Michael Gallagher

Brief description

Following the call for grounded analysis of how people make sense of sustainability in their everyday lives, this project draws on novel participatory methodologies to examine the complex, embodied and sensorial ways in which places, and our connection to these places, are constituted. New insights to sustainability are offered by asking the question: “What does it feel like to engage with particular everyday practices such as recycling, driving, walking, cooking and or cleaning?”.

Indicative publications/ presentations:

Co-authored presentation with Michael Gallagher (Glasgow), Gordon Waitt (Wollongong) ‘Making sense of climate change: sound as a methodological tool for re-thinking sustainability’Echo & Polis: Days of Sound, Athens, Greece (29 September – 3 October 2012)

Duffy, M, Wiatt, G, Harada, T (2016) Making sense of sound: Visceral sonic mapping as a research tool, Emotion, Space and Society 20: 49-57

Project: Images of Home (Photography Michelle Duffy)                           Project: Making Sense of Climate Change (Photography Michelle Duffy)


My research on festivals originated in my PhD studies, where I explored the ways in which music performance was used to construct community identity. Since then I have continued to explore the role of festival events in community development initiatives, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas. Current research (with Judith Mair and Gordon Waitt) uses the lens of the encounter as a means to consider  how we might define and assess the social benefits of festivals.

Research projects include:


The role of festivals and events in creating community cohesion


Michelle Duffy, Judith Mair, Gordon Waitt

Brief description

In this body of work on festivals we have explored the role of festivals and events may have in creating stronger communities in rural and per-urban regions in Australia. This has included examination of how change and transition impacts upon notions of community and belonging. Our current work seeks to devise a standardised tool for assessing and measuring the contribution of festivals and events to community wellbeing in rural and regional Australia.

Indicative publications/ presentations:

Duffy, M, Mair, J (2018) Festival Encounters: Theoretical perspectives on festival events and social cohesion Routledge Advances in Events Research Book Series

Mair, J, Duffy, M (2015) LGAQ Workshop: Understanding and measuring the positive community outcomes of events and festivals, prepared for the Local Government Association of Queensland, University of Queensland

Duffy, M (2014) The emotional ecologies of festivals, in A Bennett, I Woodward, J Taylor (eds) Festivalisation of Culture: Identity, Culture and Politics Farnham: Ashgate; pp. 229-250

Mair, J, Duffy, M (2014) Social cohesion and local festivals Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure & Events special issue, Social Justice & Events-related Policy 7(3): 282-298

Duffy, M, Waitt, G (2011) Rural Festivals and Processes of Belonging, in C Gibson & J Connell (eds) Festival Places: Revitalising Rural Australia Clevedon, UK: Channel View Press; pp. 44-59