2010 Research Grants


The United States Studies Centre awarded research grants totalling $105,000 for 11 projects on a wide range of topics in the humanities and social sciences by academics from nine Australian universities.

The Centre received 86 grant applications with applicants from 28 Australian universities.

Chief Executive of the US Studies Centre Professor Geoffrey Garrett said that the selection committee had been impressed by the breadth of topics in the proposals they received. "The two winning research projects show that researchers across Australia are doing work that will help further the agenda of the US Studies Centre," he said. "I am pleased that Australian academics are increasingly viewing the Centre as a top place to do cutting edge research on the US," Professor Garrett added.

Two of the grant winners, Dr Jennifer Day from the University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Mick Broderick from Murdoch University, spent up to three months at the Centre working on their research.  The other grant recipients have worked on their research projects at their home institutions.

Research grants were awarded to:

  • Saliha Belmessous (Sydney University) - The hidden history of Native Americans' legal opposition to dispossession
  • Michael Broderick (Murdoch University) - Uneasy Allies: Representing Americans as Other in Australian National Cinema
  • Jennifer Day (Melbourne University) - Planning, Media, and Local Democracy in Australia and American
  • Anika Gauja (Sydney University) - The Organization of Political Parties in the United States: The Shape of Things to Come?
  • John Hart (Australian National University) - The Greening of the White House: Environmental Policy-Making and the Presidency
  • Daniel Huppatz (Swinburne University) - A Design Poetics: Russel Wright's Manitoga
  • Rebecca LaForgia (University of South Australia) - Exploring compliance with the right public participation under United States Bilateral Free Trade Agreements
  • Tim Minchin (La Trobe University) - Textile Trouble: The Decline of the US Textile and Apparel Industry, 1965 to the Present
  • Siobhan O'Sullivan (Melbourne University) - American Animal Welfare Policy from a Comparative Perspective
  • Mina Roces (University of NSW) - The Filipino American Movement 1970-2008
  • Michael Ward (Australian National University) - Recidivism, Enforcement and Environmental Compliance

Dr Saliha BelmessousSaliha Belmessous - The hidden history of Native Americans' legal opposition to dispossession

Native American legal resistance to dispossession is commonly understood to be a contemporary phenomenon. This project will show that from the moment European expansion commenced, Native American peoples drafted legal strategies to contest dispossession. Colonization was countered not only by force but by ideas. Native Americans opposed colonizers' claims with legal arguments drawn from their own understanding of a law which applies between peoples: that is, a kind of law of nations which was comparable to that being developed by Europeans. This Native American law of nations was simultaneously rooted in Amerindian cultures while it also drew from European discourse. It was generated precisely from cross-cultural contacts. The depth of Native American legal opposition has great bearing on contemporary rights debates.

Back to Top

Associate Professor Mick BroderickMichael Broderick - Uneasy Allies - Representing Americans as Other in Australian National Cinema

This project seeks to critically assess over 200 Australian feature dramas (1911‐2009) that have depicted America and Americans. This taxonomy reflects a significant body of Australian national cinema (one fifth of all features) that has yet to receive any systematic analysis.

UNEASY ALLIES will provide a new understanding of ‘Australianness' via the frequent projection of a proximate but alien ‘other'-Americans- in order to assess our own national characteristics. The historical affection and antipathy Australians have had for Americans is well documented, but a sustained scholarly examination of this ambivalence in mediated cultural forms has yet to be undertaken.

Back to Top

Dr Jennifer DayJennifer Day - Planning, Media, and Local Democracy in Australia and America

This research responds to two major contemporary debates: how to address the effects of climate change, and what to do about our deteriorating news media. These two issues occurring simultaneously is problematic for cities because many of the efforts to address climate change are urban-planning responses, and in participatory democracies, we rely on a watchdog media to host debate about planning decisions.

The work proposed here will examine the implications of media changes at the urban scale in Australian and American cities - specifically examining whether government policy delivered matches constituent preferences in places where media coverage is deteriorating. It will focus on media coverage of planning responses to climate change, and will have qualitative and quantitative components.

Back to Top

Anika GaujaAnika Gauja - The Organization of Political Parties in the United States: The Shape of Things to Come?

This research project aims to further our understanding of the United States in Australia by identifying the key organizational characteristics of political parties in the US from a comparative perspective and to account for their development; to assess the degree to which the practices and structures of political parties in Australia and other established liberal democracies are converging upon an American model; and to evaluate the potential for American democratic innovations such as primaries, campaigning and resource strategies, and fluid membership networks to be adopted by parties outside the US - and the possible organisational and democratic consequences of doing so.

Back to Top

John HartJohn Hart - The Greening of the White House: Environmental Policy-Making and the Presidency

The project examines the framework of environmental policy advice and decision-making within White House in the context of President Clinton's failed attempt in 1993 to redesign that framework to match his environmental policy commitments.

The aim of the research is to explain why the existing framework has not fulfilled its purpose and why the Clinton attempt at institutional redesign also failed. The study will do so by emphasising the consequences of Congressional involvement in the institutional design of the White House and will attempt to provide a fuller picture of the complex forces and dynamics that shape the structure and functionality of the Executive Office of the President.

Back to Top

Dr Daniel Huppatz Daniel Huppatz - A Design Poetics: Russel Wright's Manitoga

American designer Russel Wright's house, studio and ‘forest garden', Manitoga, was the culmination of his innovative ideas about modern lifestyle, as well as the manifestation of a complex issue that designers are still faced with today: how to design with an ecological approach to contemporary living.

Manitoga's important place in modern American culture was formally recognized in 2006 when the entire complex was designated as a National Historic Landmark. My research project will result in the production of a book-length manuscript, A Design Poetics: Russel Wright's Manitoga, which will be the first extended analysis and evaluation of Wright's little-known masterpiece.

Back to Top

Rebecca LaForgiaRebecca LaForgia - Exploring compliance with the right public participation under United States Bilateral Free Trade Agreements

The United States has had a policy of linking the legal architecture of bilateral free trade agreements with wider legal norms such as transparency and public participation. These bilateral agreements are seen to express elements of good governance: to date there has not been any research on the actual question of compliance with these governance norms. The overall aim of the research is to conduct an original analysis of the practice and compliance of the Office of the United States Trade Representative with the legal undertaking of public participation. To then reflect upon the United States practice of exporting normative foreign policy objectives, such as public participation, through the legal architecture of US bilateral free trade agreements.

Back to Top

Tim MinchinTim Minchin - Textile Trouble: The Decline of the US Textile and Apparel Industry, 1965 to the Present

This project will provide the first book-length study of the decline of the U.S. textile and apparel industry. Once a central part of the American economy, and for decades the largest employer in the U.S. South, this key industry has lost around 2 million workers since the early 1970s. To date, however, most scholars have overlooked the industry's decline, instead focussing on job losses in the northern "Rustbelt," particularly in steel and autos. This study will correct this balance and will focus particular attention on how workers were affected by job loss, both economically and psychologically. It will also throw light on the broader flight of manufacturing jobs to low-wage labor markets, particularly China.

Siobhan O'Sullivan - American Animal Welfare Policy from a Comparative Perspective

America's global leadership in defining and articulating rights for animals, combined with its apparently weak domestic statutory animal protection instruments, presents an intriguing research puzzle. Using benchmark data already collected for Australia and the UK, this project will compare US animal welfare public policy against other comparable jurisdictions. It will establish where American animal welfare law is comparably strong, and where it is comparably weak. It will explore the effect of America's unique rights orientated political environment on the development of animal welfare legislation, and it will examine the political affect of voluntary non-government animal welfare agreements.

Back to Top

Dr Mina RocesMina Roces - The Filipino American Movement 1970-2008

This research will be the first history of the Filipino-American Movement from the 1970s. It will analyse the process of becoming Filipino-American by focusing on: (1) the creation of a Filipino-American identity (a process still ongoing today) and (2) civil rights activism such as the fight for housing, bi-lingual education, and the struggle against job discrimination (including the union movement). It will also investigate the alliances built between Filipino-Americans and other minority groups (Mexican-American, African-American, Asian-American and Native American) in their struggle for full citizenship rights in the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US.

Back to Top

Michael Ward - Recidivism, Enforcement and Environmental Compliance

In both the U.S. and Australia, a small proportion of regulated firms account for the majority of
environmental offenses in a given industry. To improve overall compliance and environmental quality, understanding the incentives and behavior of repeat offenders is crucial. Using U.S. compliance and enforcement records, we will examine three main questions: (1) How do environmental authorities treat repeat offenders relative to non-repeat offenders? (2) What economic factors explain the observed treatment of repeat offenders relative to others? (3) To what extent does shifting enforcement effort towards repeat offenders reduce compliance among infrequent offenders.

Back to Top

See also:


Back to top


Brendon O'Connor

Australia, the US, and the War on Terror

With Australia raising its terror alert level to high and Obama announcing a plan of action in the Middle East, debates about the alliance and its role in the War on Terror are re-emerging. Associate professor Brendon O'Connor joins an expert panel to discuss the next steps in Iraq and Syria.

Tom Switzer

Obama lays out plan for Iraq and Syria

Barack Obama's major address on his Islamic State strategy promised air strikes but can a satisfactory resolution be reached without ground troops? Research associate Tom Switzer joins a panel to read between the lines of the President's speech.

Follow us on Twitter Become a Facebook fan Watch us on YouTube See us on Flickr Watch us on Vimeo RSS