TASA Career Disruption Grant
In 2021, I was the grateful recipient of a TASA Covid Career Disruption Grant, due to my carer responsibilities increasing during Covid lockdowns. As an Early Career Researcher, coming from a former career in Human Services, this grant has been invaluable in supporting my publication goals.
Part of the grant was used in the development of a portion of my PhD research for publication. This research compared fictional and media representations of domestic violence with current Australian Domestic Violence Law, as well as approaches to masculinities informing Men’s Behaviour Change Programs (MBCPs). The purpose of the research into Australian fiction and media was to examine how current sociocultural stories about domestic violence compare with Australian Law, as I was aware of disjuncts between broader social understandings and work at the coal face - in refuges, support groups and MBCPs.
Following initial research into current Australian fictional representations of domestic violence, I became particularly interested in the representation of coercive control. Efforts by second wave feminists largely succeeded in bringing domestic violence into public consciousness, fuelled by campaigns using images of injuries arising from physical assault. However, during the course of my PhD research, the centrality of control in the accounts of women’s experiences of domestic violence has become more widely understood and better recognised (although this understanding is not new to practitioners in the field, having been the foundation of the Duluth ‘power and control wheel’, co-developed with victim-survivors in the early 1980s, and still used today). This awareness has intensified debates about criminalising coercive control in Australian jurisdictions. Disjuncts between stereotyped cultural representations of Domestic Violence, and therapeutic, police and legal approaches have long interested me. Fictional and media accounts were one way to consider how issues of gender, responsibility, contextualisation and definition were understood, reinforced or contested across time in Australia. In critiquing these discourses, my research demonstrated both complex reinforcement and contestation of gender stereotypes, contextualisation and causality in accounts of Domestic Violence.
TASA’s grant enabled focused work on the section of my research examining emerging representations of coercive control in fiction. I was grateful for feedback I received from colleagues on a conference paper I delivered on the topic at the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) conference in July 2021. The paper (under review) arising from this grant discusses the work of Heyman (Storm and Grace, 2017) and Evans (Broken, 2007) as examples of Australian women writers representing the complex, frightening and subtle dynamics of heterosexual relationships with coercively controlling men, drawing on legal definitions of coercion.
The remainder of my grant was utilised to gain a Research Assistant for the forthcoming sociology collection I am co-editing with fellow TASA member, Dr Zoei Sutton, Human-Animal Relationships in Times of Pandemic and Climate Crisis: multispecies sociology for the New Normal. This international collection emerged from the accessible online sociology conferences I was able to participate in during the first year of Covid, particularly TASA’s 2020 Virtual Conference, ‘Sociological Insights for the “Now Normal”’. For this conference, I organised the panel for the Sociology & Animals Thematic Group, which consisted of Zoei Sutton, Gavin JD Smith, Dinesh Wadiwel and myself. Following the conference, I was delighted to be approached by the Sociology Editor at Routledge regarding our research. Zoei Sutton and I had capacity to take on the editorial work for the project, seeking additional contributions from leaders in our field. Our forthcoming collection takes a critical approach to human-animal relations, making the deeply enmeshed nature of our complex, historical and normative range of relations with other species visible, and considering the sociological implications of Covid as a zoonotic disease connected to a range of other environmental and climate crises.
I am very grateful to TASA for providing a grant that responded empathically to the various needs of scholars impacted by initial Covid lockdowns, particularly carers. The organisation is extremely supportive, and I am proud of be a part of it, and to acknowledge its role in these forthcoming publications arising from my research. I would also like to acknowledge the research of my TASA Sociology & Animals colleagues, and the international sociologists in the field who are contributors to the forthcoming collection.