Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies
Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies

Clark Center Funding Recipient Profiles


Cate Palmer

Graduate Student, Michener Center for Writers, the University of Texas at Austin

CateIn December 2014, Cate Palmer travelled to Australia and New Zealand using funding awarded by the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies. She is pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Cate spent over a month in Melbourne, Auckland, and Wellington conducting research for her novel Klara, the first part of which will satisfy the thesis requirements for her MFA degree. Cate will complete the manuscript after she graduates in May 2015 and hopes to have the novel published in the United States, New Zealand, or Australia.

As a fiction writer, Cate’s research entailed exploring and recording her observation of life in and around Melbourne, Auckland, and Wellington. She not only photographed the cities' most noteworthy physical features, but she also collected details about more ordinary aspects of the cities and thier inhabitants. This sort of information includes various sensory impressions as well as descriptions of people and interpersonal interactions that she observed. It also includes loval knowledge about basic facts, such as how the various cities' public transport systems operate. 

During her visit Cate admits that she grew "thoroughly accustomed to the strange looks from people who seemed to wonder why I was taking so many photos or what I could be scribbling so urgently about." By the close of her travels, she had collected several thousand photos and half a notebook worth of throughts and impressions. These materials will enable Cate to convey to her novel's readers the dynamics of life in Melbourne, Auckland, and Wellington with a greater degree of accuracy and authenticity than might otherwise have been the case. According to Cate, her research experience has already made "a significant contribution" towards the realization of her novel.


Kristie Patricia FlanneryKristie

Graduate Student, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin 

Funding from the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies made it possible for me to travel to Australia from 26 June (arriving 28 June) to 24 July 2014 in order to conduct dissertation research and participate in a conference.

During this period I conducted dissertation research at the Mitchel Library and State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW), and the National Library of Australia (NLA) around the broad theme of the emergence of an interconnected Pacific world in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the place of Australia within this regional system. I consulted many rare books in these respective collections that shed light on the links between Australia and Asia before Australia’s mid nineteenth century gold rush.

Some of the most interesting materials that I consulted were travel narratives from this period, including the NLA’s copy of J. Shillibeer’s A narrative of the Briton's voyage to Pitcairn's Island: including an interesting sketch of the present state of the Brazils and of Spanish South America (1817), and the SLNSW’s copy ofArthur Adams’ journal and drawings documenting the later voyage of the H.M.S. Samarang (1841-1845). This ship visited ports in Singapore, Borneo Celebes, Malaya, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China, and Manila, as ports on Australia’s east coast. These sources are fascinating because they reveal that nineteenth century Anglo travellers and observers perceived these diverse parts of Asia, Australia, and the Americas to form part of a connected Pacific world. Such views of the Pacific system challenge more recent popular and scholarly understandings of the Anglo and Asian Pacific worlds as distinct and separate spheres.

As the Spanish Philippines is a key vantage point from which my dissertation explores the development of the Pacific world, I was also fortunate to locate and examine a number of rare books and manuscripts published in the Philippines, including the NLA’s copy of the rare manuscript of the late eighteenth-century Reales ordenanzas formadas por el superior gobierno, y real acuerdo de estas islas (Ordinances made by the superior government and royal resolution).  

Given the limited time that I had to work through a large amount of material, I decided to devote much of my efforts to ‘collecting’ or taking photographs of the sources that are relevant to my research. I can now work through the digital archive that I have created.

I participated in the Fifth University of Sydney International History Graduate Intensive from 16 to 18 July. This three-day seminar dedicated to cultures of diplomacy was the highlight of my time in Australia. The seminar began on 16 July with an interesting roundtable on the Congress of Vienna featuring professors from the University of Sydney, UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Vienna, as well as graduate students from many different institutions. The following two days were dedicated to the presentation and discussion of graduate student research projects. I presented my paper Battlefield Diplomacy and Empire-building in the Early Modern Pacific World. Certainly my research will benefit from the important feedback that I received from Harvard Professor David Armitage, who formally responded to my paper. The seminar also proved to be a valuable networking opportunity. Professor Glenda Sluga, the head of the University of Sydney’s Laureate Research Program in International History, invited me to become one of the Program’s affiliate graduate students. This affiliation will enable me to maintain a scholarly and professional connection to the Program and its research activities. I have attached the seminar agenda to this report.

During my visit I met with several other historians to discuss my dissertation project. In Sydney I met with Chris Maxworthy, who is currently a PhD student at the University of Sydney, as well as the Vice President of the Australian Association for Maritime History and a Councilor of the Royal Australian Historical Society. Chris and I have been corresponding for over a year in relation to our mutual research interests in the Iberian Pacific world. Chris is very knowledgeable of Spanish archival holdings related to my dissertation research, and provided very practical advice that will help my upcoming research visit to Spain.

I also met with Dr Emma Christopher, a Senior Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Sydney. Emma’s research into the British and Spanish Empires in the Atlantic and Pacific worlds is well known and widely respected. Emma provided important feedback on my dissertation research as well as career advice.  

Finally, in Canberra I met with Dr David R. M. Irving, who is a lecturer at the Australian National University (ANU). I reached out to David over a year ago after reading his book Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (2010), which is one of the most rigorously researched and fascinating studies of the colonial Philippines. David gave me very useful advice for navigating the Philippines archives before my pre-dissertation research visit to Manila in summer 2013. The Clark Center funding made it possible for us to meet and discuss my dissertation in person. As a result of our meeting, David agreed to serve as an external member on my dissertation committee.

Overall, my research trip to Australia was a rich and rewarding experience. I thank the Clark Center for its generous support.

Trey ThomasTrey

Graduate Student, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin

The Clark Center provided funds for my research and travel to Australia from July 8-22, 2014.  While there, I worked directly with Associate Professor Darren Halpin at the Australian National University on our research related to how Australian interest groups utilize the media for policy advocacy.  Dr. Halpin and I conducted new research and writing during my visit, which included the scheduling and execution of five phone interviews with staff from national Australian interest groups representing various industries and causes as well as with experts engaged in policy advocacy consulting.  With some initial assistance from Dr. Halpin, I conducted each of the interviews and transcribed large segments of my discussions for use in our article during my visit.  I spent most of my time in Bungendore at Dr. Halpin’s residence or at the ANU campus in Canberra, returning to the US on a flight from Sydney. 

We were fortunate to benefit from a high level of access during my short visit, and respondents were very forthcoming with information about each of their group’s use of media releases and related policy advocacy strategies.  One respondent in particular cited a prime example, and agreed to let us name his organization in our article: only about an hour before I had called to begin the interview, Prime Minister Abbott mentioned on the floor of the parliament that he 'consulted' with their group on the carbon tax repeal.  The respondent attributed this solely to their press release strategy from the previous day, as they had no additional contact with the PM’s office.  This example provides an illustration of the dynamics we suspected were ongoing between organized interests and government officials.  While the interviews generally confirmed many of our expectations about group media strategy, they also led us to broaden the project's scope from a narrow focus on policy-related activity directed toward government officials to a broader study of media use by interest groups.

We found clear indication that media releases are not used to primarily garner actual media coverage and respondents often suggested that releases were only one part of their policy advocacy strategies—with the importance and audience of particular releases varying widely depending the context of each issue up for debate.  Much of my time spent in Australia involved preparing for, conducting/transcribing, and discussing respondent accounts with Dr. Halpin, but we also engaged in new writing based on our preliminary paper presented at the ANZSANA conference.  That earlier quantitative analysis provided the context for my interviews and supported the generation of specific questions tailored to each group.  We will continue our work in the near future, with the goal of preparing the first of a series of related papers for an Australian political science journal early this fall.  We intend to extend our analysis in comparative context when appropriate and collect additional press release data to expand both our Australian and US samples.  

We also briefly worked on a revision to a pre-existing study on interest group mobilization that was recently returned from peer-review at an academic journal.  We evaluated how to proceed with the article and worked on reframing of our analysis, expecting to finish these revisions in the early fall.  Last, during my visit Dr. Halpin and I also discussed his Australian Research Council-funded project on the Australian organized interest system and groups’ influence in policymaking.  I will be working on the project as contract Research Associate from January-August 2015, and my research funded by the Clark Center provides a useful foundation for this future 


Sean Fern

Graduate Student, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin Lights

“I survived the big one.”  That was my Facebook post after a 6.6 earthquake struck Wellington, New Zealand.  Though there are constant reminders that, in case of an earthquake, you should stay indoors and hide under a desk, commonly one’s first instinct is to run outside as fast as humanly possible.  So, when I felt the ground shake beneath me while reading through case files in the basement of New Zealand’s Supreme Court building, I grabbed my research notes and ran outside as quickly as possible.  Having never felt an earthquake, I assumed the worst.  Afterwards I learned that the buildings are designed to shake and that the inside of a building really is the safest place to be.  Although as the accompanying picture illustrates, one must beware of falling light fixtures!  This is one of several lessons that I learned during my first experience conducting research “in the field.” 
I and Dr. Evans Case traveled to Wellington to research the New Zealand Supreme Court’s leave process, the practice by which the Court’s justices boxesdecide which cases to hear.  Specifically, in order to hear a case, the justices must decide that it is in the public interest to do so.  Being new to fieldwork, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Despite the pre-trip planning that Dr. Evans Case and I did to ensure a successful visit, we soon had to shake up (pun obviously intended) our plans.  For instance, when I first arrived at the courthouse, I was led downstairs to the courthouse basement where stacks of boxes filled with case files where stored.  The files hadn’t been touched in years and were placed in those boxes in no particular order.  “We consider this trash,” an administrative staffer said.  Although I wasn’t expecting legal fieldwork to involve manual labor, I proceeded to empty over fifty cardboard boxes and line rows of bookshelves with their contents. Though that endeavor would take over three days, it would eventually pay dividends by allowing us to locate case files in an efficient manner.
I also wasn’t expecting important members of New Zealand’s legal and political elite to be so accessible.  Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, stopped to
introduce himself as he walked by my office in the Law Faculty at Victoria University of Wellington, where he is a Distinguished Fellow.  Dr. Evans Case and I would later interview
him for over an hour.  Sometime after that, we were introduced to Sir Kenneth Keith, a former New Zealand Supreme Court justice and current justice on the International Court of Justice.  A few weeks into our trip, we finally gained enough rapport with our hosts that we managed to sit down with four out of the five sitting Supreme Court justices.  We chatted with them (over afternoon tea, obviously) and sought answers to some of the questions to which only they would know the answer.  
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I was expecting to find that the “leave process” for the New Zealand Supreme Court works just like the comparable “certiorari process” for the US Supreme Court, with which I’m very familiar.  Thus, I expected the legal briefs filed by New Zealand lawyers to devote considerable effort to laying out the political imperatives that make a case worthy of the Court’s time and attention.  We found, however, that these briefs focused heavily on alleged legal errors in the decisions of the lower courts and paid far less attention to why the case was particularly important or in the public interest.  We had to revise our research plan to meet the reality of what we observed.
My experience in New Zealand was an excellent one – both professionally and personally.  As a graduate student, I had experiences that will undoubtedly further my career development.  In addition to sitting down with Supreme Court justices, a sitting judge on the International Court of Justice, and a former Prime Minister, I conducted my first foray into archival research and participated in my first set of “elite” interviews.  Of course, no discussion of travel to New Zealand would be complete without relating the country’s natural splendor.  I spent my free time exploring a country widely known for its beautiful scenery, for its sheep, and for being the home of hobbit holes and “Middle Earth.”  Yet, the country’s hidden treasures are what made New Zealand even more stunning. Simple pleasures, like a freshly made “flat white,” the neon orange yolk of a poached egg at Prefab, or simply the warm hospitality of our hosts, colleagues, and the Tranz Metro ticket collector in Ngaio made the experience all the more worthwhile.

Anushka Jasraj   Anushka

Graduate Student, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin           

I arrived in Adelaide on 15th June, and was invited to attend the English Discipline’s Postgraduate Symposium on June 18th and 19th. The conference included presentations by Creative Writing as well as English Literature postgraduates. There were new postgraduates who were presenting their work for the first time, and some second and third year students as well. I was also asked to give the opening address on June 18th, where I talked about the MFA at UT-Austin and read an excerpt of my own work. On June 19th there was a Reading evening at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, organized by Alison Coppe, where students read and performed their creative work. During the symposium I had the opportunity to get to know the other postgraduates and learn about their work.

On 2nd July and 9th July I attended the Lee Marvin Readings at Dark Horsey bookshop, where I had the opportunity to meet some writers from Adelaide, and hear their work. Professor Nicholas Jose hosted the readings on 2nd July, where other faculty and postgraduates presented their work as well.

Dr. Carol Lefevre invited me to sit in on the first Travel Writing lecture of the Winter School. There was a lecture by travel writer Max Anderson, following which the class split up for smaller discussion sections. I sat in on a session tutored by Emma McEwin, which I found particularly interesting because I was to lead a discussion section for an undergraduate creative writing class during the Fall 2013 semester. It was helpful to observe how Emma engaged the class, and I enjoyed participating in the in-class writing activities with the undergraduates, and hearing about their experiences in Adelaide.  

Apart from these events, the rest of my time was spent exploring the city, meeting with postgraduates in a more informal environment, and working on my thesis. I was assigned a desk in the postgraduate office and I had a library pass that allowed me to borrow books. I stayed at the Kathleen Lumley College, which is a graduate residence about fifteen minutes away from campus.

On 12th July I gave a postgraduate seminar. The topic I chose was “Historical Fiction Conventions and the Mughals in South Asian Literature.” I read from a paper I had written as part of my coursework during the Spring 2013 semester. The seminar was chaired by Professor Brian Castro and was fairly informal. I found the feedback I received after the seminar extremely helpful since the paper I read did not yet have a conclusion. Overall, the internship was a wonderful experience and the most valuable thing it offered me was the time I needed to work on my thesis. I was also introduced to many wonderful new writers, and I enjoyed taking on new and different perspectives.

D'Arcy Randall, Ph.D. D'Arcy

Senior Lecturer, McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin 

The Clark Center travel grant enabled me to take up a Fryer Library Fellowship offered by the University of Queensland in 2012. Timing constraints prevented me from using the funds that year, but the Fryer librarians agreed that I could return to the St. Lucia (Brisbane) campus in the Summer of 2013 to spend more time in both the established Archives and the editorial files of the University of Queensland Press (UQP). I am writing a memoir about my work as a fiction editor for UQP during the 1980s, with a specific focus on women authors such as Thea Astley, Olga Masters, and Kate Grenville. Access to both sets of archives has been essential for this project. The Clark Center grant also allowed me to make a trip to Sydney, where I made critical discoveries in the Mitchell Library and met with former UQP authors and colleagues.

Between the Fryer and UQP, I was able to find nearly all of the archival material I needed for the memoir. In addition, I drafted two chapters and saw opportunities for writing more scholarly versions that will fill gaps in current research. For instance, the memoir chapter on Thea Astley will focus on our author-editor relationship. A more scholarly article, however, will address a gap of information about Astley’s larger publishing relationship with UQP, and UQP’s role in her long but ultimately successful ambition to find a US publisher.  The scholarly article will be useful for at least three works in progress: a biography of Astley, a study of Astley’s publishing history, and a longer study of US editions of Australian books. Over the spring and summer I both met and corresponded with the scholars working with all three projects.

In Brisbane I also worked with Fryer librarians and UQP management to review 77 boxes of UQP editorial files that will be added to the Fryer’s existing UQP Archive. Former UQP colleague Sue Abbey and I found and recovered boxes of important editorial material relating to the David Unaipon Prize for Indigenous Writers; Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang (winner of the Mann Booker Prize in 2001); plus correspondence, manuscripts, and proofs for leading Black writers Melissa Lucashenko, Mudrooroo, and Alexis Wright. Abbey and I discussed possible future work on UQP’s Black writing list and attended the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival, which featured Lucashenko, plus other UQP writers Peter Carey, Trevor Shearston, and Matthew Condon.

At the University of Queensland, I met frequently with scholars in the field of Australian literature and literary history: Bronwen Levy, David Carter, Laurie Hergenhan, William Hatherell, and Deborah Jordan. I also reviewed the Astley material with former UQP manager Frank Thompson and former Head Editor Merril Yule, who helped fill in the backstories for some of their correspondence.

In Sydney I visited the Mitchell Library to review early drafts of Kate Grenville’s novel Dreamhouse, which will likely be the focus of my chapter on Grenville. I also met with Grenville herself, who provided a serendipitous connection with the Astley story. I discussed UQP’s migrant writing with Angelo Loukakis, former UQP author and now Executive Director for the Australian Society of Authors; this discussion will inform my chapter on Rosa Cappiello and migrant women writers. Former UQP editor and publishing manager Craig Munro offered outstanding advice for and research help with the Elizabeth Jolley chapter.  Finally, I maintained contact with Seven Writers (another Australian research project) through a meeting with Sara Dowse.

Robert Schaffer robert

Graduate Student, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin 

In spring of 2013, I was fortunate enough to receive a research fellowship from the Clark Center for Australia and New Zealand Studies. I used the fellowship money to support a research trip to Australia, where I gathered data on Australian environmental legislation and policy implementation. The trip lasted for approximately six weeks (June 1-July 15), and was split between travel (in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra) and a visiting scholar appointment at Australian National University (ANU). The information I gathered will contribute to a multidisciplinary project on US, Australian, and Canadian environmental law, which combines legislative politics with scientific and administrative implementation data.

I spent approximately half of the trip contacting and interviewing Australian environmental NGOs. Most prominently, I interviewed several lawyers and analysts from the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders’ Offices, a government-funded organization that argues most of the public interest environmental cases in Australia. I also spoke with staffers from Greenpeace, Humane Society International, and the Invasive Species Council; between them, these organizations bring a large proportion of the lawsuits, public comments, and petitions authorized under the major Australian environmental statutes, making them an important part of the policymaking process. Finally, I talked to several members of Australian environmental agencies and public auditing organizations, which gave me an insider perspective on the environmental regulatory process.

In total, I conducted 9 formal interviews (approximately one to two hours each), as well as numerous informal phone, email, and personal conversations. These interviews were primarily information-gathering exercises, as participants helped me to locate relevant resources from other organizations. I also worked with academics from four different Australian universities (Australian National University; University of Queensland; University of Melbourne; University of Canberra) across multiple disciplines (biology; law; political science), where we exchanged ideas and data that has greatly enriched my project’s intellectual background.

Aside from the interviews, I also collected an array of original data on Australian environmental policy implementation. These data primarily quantify government adherence to administrative requirements, including various deadlines, reporting provisions, and litigation frequency. Most of this information only covers the federal government, however, I was also able to obtain some limited data on comparable state-level programs in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. Public reports by the Australian Senate, the Department of Environment, the Australian National Audit Office, and the Commission on Productivity provided most of the information I obtained (covering 2000-present, the lifetime of the primary Australian federal environmental statute). I supplemented these data with NGO and academic information, including litigation and implementation data maintained by Dr. Andrew Macintosh (ANU) and Dr. Chris McGrath (University of Queensland; Queensland Environmental Defender’s Office), as well as figures maintained by the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders’ Offices and Humane Society International.

On the legislative side, I gathered and studied an array of Parliamentary speeches and party statements surrounding the passage and amendment of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (the primary Australian federal environmental statute). These speeches and statements allowed me to track the law’s legislative history, giving me greater insight into the design principles underlying the statute. Cataloguing the Parliamentary debates also allowed me to connect implementation data with stated MP voting motivations, helping me to develop and explore hypotheses regarding statutory design and amendment. Most of the statements I examined dated from the original EPBC Act debates in 1998 and 1999, as well as the debates over major amendments to the statute passed in 2006. I also read and gathered oversight hearings and reports from the Australian Senate, which has produced a number of reports on EPBC Act implementation and proposed amendments.

Finally, I explored potential Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Environment and the Australian National Audit Office. In both cases, I inquired about various internal implementation figures, which were collected but not publicized by both departments. Officials provided me with some of the information I requested, and informed me that most of the rest would be made available in a forthcoming update to government web databases. If these data are not made available by November of 2013, I intend to submit a formal FOIA request to obtain them.

All together, the interviews and data I collected in Australia will contribute to my professional development in several important ways. In the short term, I plan to publish my findings in law and political science outlets, as well as present my research at the ANZSANA annual conference. The ideas and connections I developed during the trip will also lead to new and exciting collaborative efforts, both with American and with Australian academics. In the United States, for example, I am already exploring a potential collaboration with Professor David Adelman (UT Law School). Various ANU professors have also offered to advise, sponsor, and/or support me financially on future trips to Australia, including Andrew Banfield, Keith Dowding, Juliet Pietsch, Marshall Clarke (all School of Politics and International Relations), and Andrew Macintosh (School of Law). Finally, all of the data and contacts I gathered will help support my long-term dissertation research, helping me to develop and test hypotheses regarding statutory design and policy implementation in the comparative context.