PhD FAQs

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What discipline is your doctorate in?

Anthropology. To be even more precise, social anthropology. The nitty-gritty: the thesis is situated within the specialities of environmental and organisational anthropology.

What is the central question your thesis asks?

What does joint management (co-management) mean to conservation agencies in Australia?

What is joint management?

Joint management is the management of national parks and other protected areas by government-run conservation agencies and Indigenous (Aboriginal) peoples. It’s called ‘co-management’ in some international contexts.

Tell me (in a nutshell) what it’s about?

How the history and culture of a government conservation agency shapes and defines what is thought of and enacted as joint management. This is set against the backdrop of massive change within the government conservation agency:  a Native Title claim that saw 33 national parks and other reserves become jointly managed … simultaneously. This is the story of how the NT Parks and Wildlife Service translated joint management on this enormous scale into action and the outcomes of these actions.

Why bother?

About 98% of everything written about co-management or joint management is from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.  This means that we know an awful lot about Indigenous people’s understandings, expectations and experiences of joint management, but we know almost nothing about the other side of the bargain – the expectations, motivations and experiences of government conservation agencies. Thus, if joint management is about managing jointly, it’s a good idea to find out what makes these organisations ‘tick’, so to speak.

How can you write 100,000 words about anything?

I could write 500,000 words about joint management and still find new ways of looking at it.

Which university are you enrolled with and who are your supervisors?

I was enrolled at the Australian National University in Canberra.

My supervisors are:

Professor Nicolas Peterson (Nic is a legend and I highly recommend him to other prospective post-grads).

Professor Francesca Merlan

Dr Jocelyn Davies

How long did it take you to write your thesis/ how is your thesis going?

It took me 10 years in total to finish my PhD. However, keep in mind that during this time, I undertook 3 and half years of field work, suspended my study for several years, and went through a marriage break up.

The actual writing of the thesis took about a year and two drafts.

I was passed with very minor corrections (8 hours of correcting typos and changing -I kid you not- ONE entire paragraph).

I did not feel satisfied at the end of it.

When asked, even four years on, I have to say that I am much prouder of my Honours Thesis than my PhD Thesis.

Can I Read Your Thesis?

My thesis is highly critical of both the NT Parks & Wildlife Service and an incredibly powerful Central Australian NGO (whose name is omitted here because I don’t want to appear in any of their Google queries). As my partner is employed by the PWS and must work closely with the NGO, for rather obvious reasons, I am not willing to release my thesis to the public until we leave the Northern Territory. I am willing to provide a copy of the PhD thesis to people for use in their own academic work, however, I this will be subject to conditions. Email me if you wish to read the thesis.