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Featured Member Profile: Erin Carlisle

This post was originally published on TASA’s Postgraduate website and has been republished here with the postgraduate sub committee’s permission:

Member: Erin Carlisle

What are you researching?
I’m developing a new approach to a theory of collective political action by bringing political social theory into dialogue with hermeneutic phenomenological philosophy, and critically comparing the work of Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriaids, and Peter Wagner.
What drew you to this topic?
Good question! I guess I’ve been interested in what politics ‘is’ and what political action ‘does’ for a long time, mostly in light of conversations with friends about dissatisfaction and frustration with the political process in Australia, and the rest of the world more broadly. My honours thesis focussed on the television show Q&A, and considered whether that constituted a form of political engagement. My PhD takes the question of what politics is and what political action looks like even further, as a theoretical and philosophical question.
What have been the highlights of your Postgraduate journey?
I was lucky to be accepted to present at the European Sociological Conference in Prague in 2015, and won a Junior Scholar award for the paper I presented there. Prague was fantastic; Bauman was a keynote speaker in the opening address, and I even asked Agnes Heller a question in her symposium (#nerdalert). I’ve also been really lucky to develop great friendships with other sociology RhD students at Flinders, I wouldn’t be where I am without their support.
What do you wish you had known before you started?
How f#&*ing hard a PhD is! And how isolating it can be. Although you read information and blogs about the PhD being hard and isolating etc, you kind of take it with a grain of salt and go “pfft it can’t be that hard, that won’t happen to me”. Nope – it did, and does.
What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting post graduate study?
First, I’d say don’t give in to the ‘impostor syndrome’, or beat yourself up too much throughout the process. You and your work are great, just push yourself further. (I don’t admit to taking my own advice, by the way).
Second, talk to your peers and academics about the whole process, about their experiences – the good and the bad – and really think about whether undertaking higher study is something you can and want to do. And more importantly, whether it is something you can kick-ass at, because you need to kick-ass if you want to have a career in research or academia. I have said throughout my journey that “if i had known X, Y, Z, then maybe I wouldn’t have done the PhD”. Although I said that (frequently) through the (very) low-points of the research process, I’ve also learnt a lot about myself and opened an amazing pathway for my future, one where I hope to make a difference in the way we think about and participate in politics.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?
Ha, as if I have time to not be working on my research right now.. But: hanging out with friends; cartoons (classic Simpsons, Rick and Morty, South Park, etc); football (go Crows!); drinking (with friends, not alone (yet)); and travelling (next on the list is a return to Europe, to celebrate submitting my thesis).
Thanks Erin! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop us an email at