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 geography and critical development studies with a focus on forced migration, governmentality and securitisation in Oceania; Indigenous-led geographies and Natural Resource Management (NRM); participatory/strengths-based community development; vegan geographies; and, critical pedagogy         

Forced migration, governmentality and securitisation in Oceania

Paul’s research in this area draws on the governmentality-security nexus as a way of challenging donor attempts to govern populations in the region. His work emphasises Pacific-led efforts to subvert this 'governed freedom' (Hodge, 2014, p.292; Hodge, 2012). Paul has introduced new insights, notably those of Judith Butler, into current debates about asylum seekers at a time of increased securitisation (Hodge, 2015). Critiquing the coalition government’s Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), Paul argues that OSB constitutes a social crafting where conditions for a flourishing life are diminished, and that this crafting of precariousness is carried out in the name of securing citizens lives.                         

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’ protests represent in terms of challenging the coalition government’s hard line stance when it comes to those legally seeking asylum in Australia. 


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

Indigenous-led geographies and Natural Resource Management (NRM)
With geography colleague Associate Professor Sarah Wright (UoN), Paul secured an ARC Linkage Grant (July 2016-2021) entitled: ‘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, and Gumbaynggirr Country on the NSW mid-north coast.

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.

Participatory/strengths-based community development

Paul’s research in this area emerges out of three successful competitive UoN Faculty grants (FSCIT Small Research Grant, 2015, FSCIT Strategic Small Grant, 2013 and FSCIT New Staff Grant, 2016) and collaborative work with colleagues at UNSW (Dr Annika Dean) and University College London (Hannah Fair). 

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. 

A third new research project will explore the ways in which Asylum Seeker and Refugee support and advocacy organisations are nurturing the strengths and capacities of asylum seekers and refugees and the challenges of doing so in the current political climate. The research aims to document and highlight projects and initiatives which recognise and build on the strengths and capacities of on-shore Asylum Seekers and Refugees to challenge myths targeting these marginalised groups and as a way of exploring the ‘national benefits’ of increased resource allocation, permanent residency and ultimately Australian citizenship for those seeking asylum.

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.