Newcastle Port workshop, 2019

liminal zones workshop

Photograph: Rachel Hughes (2018)

Liminal Zones:
Where sea and land meet

Friday 15 November, 2019, University of Newcastle, Australia

Supported by the Institute of Australian Geographers

In last year’s workshop – Oceanic Responsibilities and Co-belonging – we sought to open up discussion about the intricate, deeply entangled relations between the human and nonhuman world, and what this means in the age of Anthropogenic climate change.

Our aim this year is to build upon these earlier discussions, and explore those zones of intersection and encounter between ocean and land. As with our first workshop, the format for the day reflects our commitment to participatory methodologies that build capacity amongst research participants and project stakeholders, and pursues research grounded in the concerns of our contemporary world.

Our focus is on the port – and the Newcastle Port more specifically – as one of the intersection points between land and water. As Ng et al. (2014: 84) note, ‘ports have played important roles in the socio-economic development of cities, countries and regions throughout the history.’ Yet, these are now often places of rapid deindustrialisation and transition, which not only impacts on the economic wellbeing of these communities but also the foundation of community identities (Stevenson & Paton 2001). While past research has focused on transport, management, policy and governance, we seek to trace the network of human and non-human actors that generate these liminal zones – mindful that the frames we might use necessarily overlap and leak into one another (Lehman 2013). Our interest, then, lies in the intersection of the cultural, social, environmental and material significance of port places.

What we hope to achieve at the conclusion of this symposium is a map of future collaborative projects that are responsive to the opportunities, issues and challenges of port life in general, and the Port of Newcastle in particular.

RSVP Please email Michelle Duffy on <> by Thursday 31 October, 2019.

Workshop program

Venue: University of Newcastle City Campus, Room X803
Date: Friday 15 November, 2019 (lunch will be provided on the day)

Visit to Newcastle Port
Presentations by stakeholders and researchers
Group discussion
Planning for future projects: academics/postgraduate students/stakeholders
Concluding Panel

For those already in Newcastle on Thursday evening, we will also organise an informal, self-funded dinner (venue to be advised).

Workshop readings

As a way into our discussions for the workshop, we suggest that the following three readings bring into contact exciting possibilities for exploring the port as a liminal zone (files to be emailed to participants):

  • Bissell, D (2018) ‘Experimental interruptions: Curating sensing spaces’. Transit Life Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press; pp. 79-106
  • Campbell, N (2016) ‘Kathleen Stewart: Fictocritical regionality’. Affective Critical Regionality London & New York: Rowan & Littlefield; pp. 97-122
  • Bosworth, K. (2017). ‘Thinking permeable matter through feminist geophilosophy: Environmental knowledge controversy and the materiality of hydrogeologic processes’. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 35(1): 21-37.

For those less familiar with the area, we’ve also collated some briefing documents on Newcastle:

  • Brown, J. (2002). Cultural geographies in practice: ARTzone: environmental rehabilitation, aesthetic activism and community empowerment. cultural geographies, 9(4), 467-471.
  • Crommelin, L. (2013). Selling Newcastle to the world, and to Newcastle: A Case Study of the Official and Unofficial Rebranding of Newcastle, NSW. In State of Australian Cities’ conference, Sydney NSW. Available at:
  • Stevenson, D. (1999). Reflections of a ‘great port city’: the case of Newcastle, Australia. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 17(1), 105-119.

This workshop is supported by the Institute of Australian Geographers and the University of Newcastle, and led by the Cultural Geography Study Group in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples Knowledge and Rights Study Group, Nature, Risk and Resilience Group and Critical Development Studies Group.

Organisers: Associate Professor Michelle Duffy (Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Newcastle); Dr Michele Lobo (School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Education, Deakin University); Ms Vickie Zhang (School of Geography, The University of Melbourne).


Lehman, J. (2013). Relating to the sea: Enlivening the ocean as an actor in Eastern Sri Lanka. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31: 485-501.

Ng, A., Ducruet, C., Jacobs, W., Monios, J., Notteboom, T., Rodrigue, J-P., Slack, B., Tamg, K., Wilmsmeier, G. (2014). Port geography at the crossroads with human geography: between flows and spaces. Journal of Transport Geography 41: 84-96.

Stevenson, D., Paton, G. (2001). Representing decline: The role of the arts in framing discourses of deindustriailisation. Media International Australia 100: 129-146.