Hedda Askland

Hedda is a social anthropologist who works at the University of Newcastle (NSW). She is the Project Director of the Centre for Social Research and Regional Futures and Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities.

Hedda’s research centres on questions of exile and displacement, home, identity and belonging. She has explored these phenomena as they transpire within transnational, translocal and local contexts, working with refugees and asylum seekers from East Timor living in Australian metropolitan centres and mining affected rural communities in New South Wales.

Whilst her early work looked at how political and social conflicts in home countries shape everyday realities, communities and identities of former refugees, her current research focusses on the meeting between large-scale industry and small local communities. Through ethnographic research, she investigates how mining, land use and land use change relate to place, power, home and exile, paying particular attention to the intersection of mythology, ontology and ecology in the establishment of people’s experiences of self and other.

Hedda grew up on the west-coast of Norway but has lived in Australia for 16 years. She now lives in Newcastle together with her two boys, Andreas and Lars.

WORKSHOP: Rural communities in a time of change

Throughout history, local places have been shaped through meetings between local populations and global forces. Physical and social landscapes have been altered through conquest and settlement, at the same time presenting destructive and creative potentials connecting localities with global entities.

At the periphery of global politico-economic realities, rural places have become sites of contestation; locations in which debates about the commons and structural inequalities manifest. At the same time, rurality and rural communities remain icons of cohesion, harmony and sustainable lives. As the international political elites debate how to deal with the contemporary challenges of climate change, food security and migration, these debates are localised realities of rural populations across the globe.

Within these local places, battles of land continue to mark individual’s daily life and through the movement of people—both to and from rural places—inequality and isolation, power and privilege, conflict and creativity emerge. As part of this workshop, the notion of rural localities as spaces for collaboration and cohesion, conflict and contest will be explored.

Two key questions for this workshop are:

• what does rurality mean for people who live within rural areas?;
• how do movement of people (urban-rural migration or rural out-migration, asylum seekers and refugees, tourists and temporary visitors), resources (e.g. coal and gas) and agricultural products create potential or restrictions for small-scale rural communities?

A central metaphor for the workshop is that of ‘neighbourhood’, which will present a trope by which the meeting point between localised realities and external forces can be explored.