Learning Southern urbanisms in the time of COVID-19: Methodological implications, empirical insights, and ethical dilemmas

Streetscapes

Japanese Room (or Online) Level 4, Glyn Davis Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010

More Information

Rosanna Verde

rverde@unimelb.edu.au

The multi-dimensional aspects and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have reshaped the landscape of scholarship. Researchers in different parts of the globe continue to deal with the challenges brought on by the COVID crisis, highlighting the importance of navigating both academic demands and personal concerns. The pandemic has prompted many scholars to reframe methodological approaches and adjust ‘fieldwork’ design to better capture the empirical nuances on the ground. For those working with marginalised groups, it has been crucial to attend to ethical dilemmas in engaging with grassroots communities and other stakeholders who remain vulnerable to the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic.

Besides the constraints imposed by the crisis, many young scholars and early career researchers/academics work under insecure casual (job) arrangements. They are under constant pressure to publish in top tier international journals. This is part of a broader trend in many universities that expect (contractual) researchers to remain (academically) productive even during a period of global uncertainty and employment precarity.

This international webinar is going to tackle these overlapping issues. Three Southeast Asian scholars will share key insights into how they have been navigating the current research landscape amid the still on-going COVID-19 global pandemic. They will touch upon how adaptive methodological approaches, emerging empirical insights and ethical dilemmas might transform the contours and trajectories of built environment research in the global South. This event is jointly convened by the Space for Engagement and Epistemic Diversity or SEED and MSD-Colour Diversity Group.

Presentations

Patchwork ethnography within complex disasters: An ecological approach
Pamela Cajilig

This presentation will describe the remote qualitative research techniques that were deployed as part of a doctoral research project on post-disaster housing reconstruction involving fisherfolk inhabiting a small island in Manila Bay. These techniques were carried out to conduct "patchwork ethnography" within a disaster research context involving the COVID-19 pandemic, land subsidence, typhoons, and flooding. The discussion will illustrate how sensitivity to the ecological relations of "the field" allows for possibilities to address the ethical and methodological challenges of conducting ethnographic research as a Southern doctoral scholar embedded in a virulent and volatile world of complex disasters.

Covid and me: Juggling high- and low- resolution research methods
Ha Minh Hai Thai
Movement restrictions imposed by government-led Covid-19 prevention measures have urged many researchers to shift from close-up, high-resolution, qualitative-focused research approaches to desktop-based, data-driven, low-resolution research methods. In this talk, Ha Thai will share his experience and discoveries in attempting to bridge the methodological gaps between qualitative and quantitative approaches and swinging between large and small scales. He will discuss some of his research findings on global Chinatowns and Hanoi, revealing the impacts of high-density urban physical forms on inhabitants’ quality of life, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Race to Mandalika: Tourism as a post-pandemic remedy?
Diah Asih (Roro) Purwaningrum
Despite proven fragile under unexpected and sudden changes and disasters, the Indonesian government still puts tourism as an instant remedy for worsened economic conditions in the community. Mandalika’s tourism plan serves as an interesting post-pandemic case. Events such as the World Superbike Championship and MotoGP have been expected to revitalise the Indonesian tourism sector. Yet, these events deemed successful by the national and international media have caused various socio-cultural problems for the local community. Whose interests are served in the projects? This is one important question worth asking, especially since the government’s promising campaigns have led people to shift their livelihood to this sector, putting them at risk of another socio-economic downfall if the plan does not go as planned.

Speakers

Pamela Cajilig - Pamela is a cultural anthropologist who conducts research at the junctures of disaster, design, and development and with more than two decades of experience in research and consulting work in Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. She is presently a PhD Candidate at the RMIT University School of Architecture and Urban Design. Her doctoral research project “Participation as Inhabitation: Designer-Citizens Negotiating Post-Disaster Housing Reconstruction” is an ecological examination of the processes through which fisherfolk inhabiting a small island rebuild amidst complex disasters, given limited access to material resources and political capital.

Ha Minh Hai Thai - Ha is a Lecturer in landscape architecture at RMIT’s School of Architecture and Urban Design. His research focuses include space syntax, urban morphology, building typology, informal urbanism, place identity, smart city, and the Asia Pacific region.

Diah Asih (Roro) Purwaningrum - Roro is a Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development, Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia. Her research interests include the intersection between architecture and the issues of identity, politics, and locality. She is also interested in design approaches and methods, particularly on how architects translate what is perceived as identity and locality into built form, amidst the political tension surrounding it.

Session Chair

Redento B. Recio - Reden is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne. His research interests include urban informal livelihoods, social inclusion, collective action, urban planning, and governance issues in global South cities.