Dr Paul Hodge

Dr Paul Hodge


School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Geography and Environmental Studies)

Career Summary


Dr Paul Hodge is lecturer in geography and development studies in the Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Newcastle. He works in the field of political and cultural geography and critical development studies with a focus on Indigenous-led geographies and Natural Resource Management (NRM); forced migration, governmentality and hope; participatory/strengths-based community development; vegan geographies; and, critical pedagogy         

Indigenous-led geographies and Natural Resource Management (NRM)
'Caring for Country: Geographies of Co-existence in Gumbaynggirr Country':

This research project, led by Aunty Shaa Smith, aims to work with Gumbaynggirr people and Country, to build a better understanding of what Gumbaynggirr-led Caring for Country might look like, and how it might be practiced, today. The research is a collaboration between Gumbaynggirr people led by Aunty Shaa Smith with Neeyan Smith, the Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance of NRM organisations, UoN (Sarah Wright, Lara Daley & Paul Hodge), and Gumbaynggirr Country on the NSW mid-north coast (ARC Linkage Grant: July 2016-2021).

Source: Sarah Wright (Caring for Country - connecting through pippies on Gumbaynggirr Country)

As Aunty Shaa explains:

We call our group Yandaarra, which is Gumbaynggirr for a group going together, shifting camp together. This is also the name for our research and our work together. We see Yandaarra, our research, as a re-creation story. It’s about remembering what was (what is) as part of this re-creating. This work is about honouring Elders and custodians past, present and future. Our guidance from them is so important; it’s timeless, relevant for ever. Stories don’t belong to one time but for all time. This story that we’re doing now, the research, is relevant for then and now and for the future.

'Yenama Budjari Gumada – Walk with Good Spirit: Darug Caring-as-Country, creating local environmental stewards':

This Darug-led project located at Yellomundee Regional Park in western Sydney aims to develop, model and advocate greater environmental stewardship to facilitate important connections between Darug custodians and youth, environmental experts, management authorities and users, by: 1) Working with environmental experts to enhance, implement and document Caring-as-Country mechanisms. 2) Inspiring local users to Care-as-Country through building awareness of the area’s cultural, environmental and historical significance, and 3) Developing an adaptive model of cross-cultural environmental stewardship for use by NPWS, community groups and Aboriginal custodians of other sites in NSW. The project is a collaboration with geography colleagues from Macquarie University Associate Professor Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Dr Marnie Graham and Dr Emilie Ens, Darug custodian Uncle Lex Dadd and NPWS practitioner Paul Glass, Sara Judge, Rebecca Scott & Jess Lemire (Office of Environment and Heritage Environmental Trust Grant: April 2018 - April 2021).  

20180224_135633.jpgSource: Sara Judge (signing in to Darug Country)

Forced migration, governmentality and hope 

Paul’s research in this area draws on governmentality and postcolonial critique as a way of challenging Australian government attempts to govern populations in the region. His work emphasises Pacific-led efforts to subvert this 'governed freedom' (Hodge, 2014, p.292; Hodge, 2012) and heightened securitisation when it comes to people seeking asylum (Hodge, 2015).                         

Source: Golding                                                                                          Source: The Australian Greens

Paul’s more recent work in this area explores what recent demonstrations and actions such as the nation-wide ‘Let Them Stay’ and 'Bring Them Here' protests represent and embody in terms of challenging the coalition government’s hard line stance when it comes to those seeking asylum in Australia (Hodge, 2018). 


Source: Darren England (News Corp)                                  Source: Jorge Branco

With colleague Faith Curtis, Paul is currently exploring the ways in which Asylum Seeker and Refugee support and advocacy organisations are nurturing the strengths, capacities and hopes of people seeking asylum and those from refugee backgrounds, and the challenges of doing so, in the current political climate. The research documents and highlights projects and initiatives which recognise and build on the strengths and capacities of off-shore and on-shore people seeking asylum to challenge myths targeting these marginalised groups (Hodge & Curtis, 2018; Hodge & Curtis forthcoming).

Paul is currently working with his brother, Steven Hodge (Griffith University), on a manuscript that brings together Michel Foucault and Ernst Bloch - the philosopher of hope - to think through the hope manifest in strengths based approaches when working with people seeking asylum.    

Participatory/strengths-based community development

The first project builds on the strengths, capacities and aspirations of young people in Fiji (aged 18-30) to build an adaptive typology of context-specific development frameworks. The project involved a 2-Day workshop co-facilitated with Vivian Koster (Development Practitioner and PhD Candidate, University of the South Pacific). The facilitation team used participatory/strengths-based exercises to draw out participant’s experiences and aspirations as they reflected on their development work in the Pacific region (Hodge, Koster, et. al., 2016).      

Source: Manasa Vatanitawake (Day 2)                                     Source: Paul Hodge (Day 1 Building a picture of ‘successful’ development)

The second research project in this area (with geography colleague Associate Professor Jenny Cameron and UoN colleagues Amanda Howard and Graeme Stuart) involves interviews with practitioners who use strengths-based practices for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (Cameron, et. al., 2016). This ongoing research aims to explore the ‘risky business’ of strengths based approaches as practitioners challenge the way neoliberalism constrains their practices and efforts when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Paul is working with Annika and Hannah and the Pacific Climate Warriors to challenge the ‘script of vulnerability’ that dominates climate change discourses on the Pacific Islands. With the catch-cry, ‘We’re not drowning, we are fighting’, the collaboration reflects on the elaborate demonstration and performance of Pacific resistance on Friday 17th October, 2014 in Horseshoe Beach Newcastle, Australia. On this day, the Pacific Climate Warriors representing 12 Pacific Island Nations and four hundred supporters stopped coal ships entering and leaving the world’s biggest coal port.