Graduate Supervision

I supervise and co-supervise honours and graduate students at the University of Canberra and at other institutions who are engaged in design and ethnographic projects. 

Rhonda Nichols – PhD Candidate (commenced 2016)

Rhonda Nichols

Exploring Fijian children’s sense of place, home and displacement after Cyclone Winston through stories, drawings and Talanoa

Abstract: Cyclones and other natural disasters affect children’s sense of place and security. In Fijian villages children have a unique and strong attachment to place and home. This qualitative research will study how Cyclone Winston, in particular, affected Fijian village children in regards to the aforementioned sense of place through storytelling, drawings, play and Talanoa. Talanoa is a unique Fijian way of talking, listening, sharing and decision making. It is the main data collection method that will be utilized in this research.

Displacement is also a challenge for the families of Fijian villages since Cyclone Winston. Children have been taken away from the landscape they have known and the landscapes they have known have been taken from them. Solastalgia is a new concept adopted by academia in the wake of the plethora of natural disasters in the world. It is the state of mind of people whose environments have been irrevocably changed by natural or environmental ruin. Children of Fijian villages that have been destroyed by Cyclone Winston may be suffering from this condition and this study will help define and connect with their experiences.

Biography: I emigrated to Australia from the United States in 1978. After years of caring for my family I obtained a diploma in Library and Information Sciences from CIT and a diploma of IT Multimedia from ANU College. I worked as a library technician for 15 years at the National Library of Australia, AIATSIS and the Australian Sports Commission. In 2006, I began part-time study for a Bachelor of Arts degree. I retired from full time work in 2014 and commenced full time study in 2015. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 2015. I commenced my PhD study in August of 2016.

A/Prof Scott Heyes serves as primary supervisor on this project

Loata Ho – MA Research Candidate (commenced 2017)

Loata Ho

Itaukei Architecture and Women’s Knowledge:
Modelling a culturally sustainable women’s centre breaking barriers in ‘vanua’ development in Fiji

Collectively developing a culturally sustainable hub is an essential criterion for women’s rural development in an indigenous Fijian context. I am an indigenous Fijian woman, an architectural practitioner, a mother, a volunteer, and a member of the development team of ‘The RaMarama (women’s) Hub’ – a twelve-year architectural project in Savusavu. In my thesis, I explore indigenousFijian architecture and women’s knowledge, using the indigenous framework of ‘Vanua’, a patriarchal and hierarchal identity to the land, people and their spirituality. The research adopted ‘Talanoa’ (storytelling), an indigenous methodological approach for data collection, analysis and
verification. From my indigenous perspective, I critique the ideology of ‘vanua’, privileged women’s knowledge, reflect on the RaMarama Hub, and the relevance of these in sustainable indigenous Fijian architecture to facilitate rural women’s development. Exploring my positioning as a woman in the patriarchal structure and acknowledging my vulnerabilities, I became more aware of the various layers of invisibility of indigenous women’s voices, their positioning, and their current living
conditions. More research is needed to explore in-depth the complexities of indigenous women’s positioning in Fijian villages. This research highlights the urgent need for more culturally sustainable women’s hubs designed to integrate and prioritise the needs of rural women.

Loata’s project is supervised by A/Prof Scott Heyes (primary) and Prof Steve Basson.  Dr James Harley (RMIT) and Sereima Naisilisili (University of South Pacific) serve as advisors.

Macarena de la Vega – PhD (2014-2018)

Macarena de la Vega

An Intertwined History or A Modern Tradition: The Contribution of William J.R. Curtis to the Historiography of Modern Architecture

This thesis explores the writing of history through the close reading of William J.R. Curtis’ Modern Architecture Since 1900 (1982).

Macarena’s project is supervised by Prof Gevork Hartoonian (Primary), Associate Prof Scott Heyes and Prof John McCarthur (University of Queensland).

Neelam Singh – PhD Candidate (commenced 2018, Fiji National University)

Neelam Singh

From The Culture To The Classroom: Reimagining  Fijian Primary Art Curriculum 

Art can often present lines of social and cultural differences, especially in a multicultural context like Fiji.  One of the most defining aspects of a culture is its art. A culture’s art is an expression of its people and their identity. The intersection between artists and education are central to this study as culture is seen as an integral part of everyday practice and the teacher is a central being in the process of art creation and implementation in the classroom. This study will consider how contemporary Fijian art and education together contribute to the performing of individual and collective identities and produces cultural capital. It will take an inclusive perspective and consider all art forms, their practices and their diversity across communities.  With a strong indigenous and cultural education grounded in curriculum and pedagogy congruent with traditional knowledge, and cultural practices at its core, it will examine how Fijian culture and identity is preserved at a time of cultural diversity.

This research will be guided by a qualitative ethnographic approach and will involve working with the iTaukei and Indo-Fijian community in their community/village setting, cultural artists, teachers, students, pedagogical designers and other stakeholders who are involved in the design, implementation and delivery of the art curriculum, and protection, preservation and promotion of Fiji’s cultural diversity through art. This study will investigate the extent of Fiji’s art curriculum embraces all cultural art forms.  Fieldwork will be directed towards obtaining a representative collection of the art of Indo-Fijian and iTaukei community in its social context and comparing with its delivery and implementation in the primary art classroom. It is hoped that this study opens up a new way to perceive art in the Fijian context and how it is serving the cultural artists, the curriculum and the cultural diversity in Fiji.

The supervision team consists of: Professor Unaisi Nabobo Baba (Chair- FNU), Associate Professor Scott Heyes (Second Supervisor-UC) and Professor Nii K Plange (Third Supervisor-FNU).

Setoki Tuiteci – MA Research Candidate (commenced 2012)

Setoki Tuiteci

Improving the quality of the Fijian Built environment through the Development of an Environmental Design Ethic from traditional Fijian knowledge to Modern Fijian Architecture

Abstract: The Fijian Built environment has gone through and continues to experience changes through development as part of the economic growth of any developing country in the South Pacific region. This growth has seen the change to environmental landscapes of traditional indigenous societies in terms of physical locations and also in the traditional ways of living as modern development influences and the need for economic based living is slowly becoming more important than subsistence living.

For a small Pacific Island state such as Fiji, which is slowly changing with modern development, it is not difficult to influence traditional indigenous societies to adapt to the easier and more convenient ways of living where western ideas are adopted as the more acceptable ways to live, this is further influenced through modern education and the media as access to information is readily and easily available to the indigenous community.

There is documentation of the evidence of traditional sustainable practice in the practice of seasonal fishing and farming and living in different articles and publications put together by Pacific academics and researchers through the study of traditional systems of living in different areas of the pacific from the Melanesians to the Polynesians and Micronesians.

This research project aims to push those boundaries and demonstrate the principles of traditional sustainable knowledge for the management of infrastructure development in Fiji and the Pacific through architecture and design. Traditional knowledge in the form of tangible and intangible cultural heritage can also be harnessed to make positive contributions to the modern Fijian way of life.

The epistemology of the traditional Fijian structure of society has a lot to contribute to the development of theoretical frameworks and pragmatic solutions of issues faced in modern day Fiji, these are issues of environmental sustainability, architecture and design, construction and infrastructure development, management of resources and other issues that contribute to the built environment landscape and its relationship with the people that live in Fiji.

Biography: Setoki Tuiteci, a native born Fijian, currently practices architecture at Clearview Architects in Suva. He has worked extensively on design, planning and cultural heritage projects across Fiji, with a particular interest in iTaukei architectural knowledge and understandings of the environment.

A/Prof Scott Heyes serves as primary supervisor on this project

Julia Loginova (PhD candidate commenced 2013, University of Melbourne)

Julia Loginova

Times of change in resource extraction regions: local adaptation strategies and institutional challenges in the Russian north

Her research aims to develop a conceptual framework that can be used to explore institutional response to environmental degradation and climate change in the context of socially constructed uncertainty and its implications for human security. Institutional response encompasses arrangements in both formal and informal rules across scales and sectors and is seen as institutional adaptation, institutional resilience and institutional change. Institutional response that mediates social vulnerability is observed by examining how institutional interplay results in institutional access to resources for coping and adaptation.

Julia is studying at the University of Melbourne and is supervised by Dr Anna Hurlimann, A/Prof Simon Batterbury, Dr Ole Fryd. A/Prof Scott Heyes and Dr Jennifer Day serve on Julia’s advisory committee.

Rhys Probert –  Landscape Architecture Honours Project (2017)

Rhys Probert

Indigenous consultation: An examination of the process as undertaken by landscape architects and the importance of Indigenous intangible values

Abstract: This thesis examines the processes in which landscape architecture practitioners engage in consultation with Indigenous Australians, the issues surrounding the process and suggestions to encourage engagement and education on the process in the future. It also examines the intangible cultural values and their importance to the Indigenous cultural landscape, landscape architecture discipline and consultation processes. Due to the vast size and various cultural climates of Australia, the processes vary from location to location, with some practitioners being exposed to the processes on a day to day basis while others are yet to full engage at all. The research has identified a number of contributing factors to the hesitance or oversight of the intangible and the consultation process with the core of the problem being perceived as lack of education, training and exposure. Through analysis of various methods and approaches such as Indigenous methodologies like Dadirri, this thesis encourages the practitioners of landscape architecture to engage in the process of Indigenous consultation and recognition of intangible cultural values, while encouraging AILA (Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture) to revisit it’s education policy and charter to better reflect the importance of Indigenous consultation in landscape architecture and so that it may provide an initial platform for future practitioners and a base to act on moving forward.

Supervised by Associate Professor Scott Heyes

Samuel Byrnand – Honours Project (2015)
Development of the ‘Timeline’: A digital repository of official statistics, commentary and significant socio-political events pertaining to Indigenous Australia, 1830-2015

This exegetical reflection on my practice-based project, which I refer to as the “Timeline”, outlines the development of a centralised database of official reporting on Indigenous Australia. Primarily an archive containing government reports on social, cultural, industrial and academic developments and general commentary within Australia’s Indigenous population, the Timeline allows for ease of access to many hard to find documents pertaining to the field. The target users are primarily educators and students, but the applications also extend into professional legal, economic, sociological and political  fields. The frequent  modifications  of government websites mean that it is very difficult to source and return to reports produced and distributed through such channels. The Timeline aims to foster a close relationship between the source material and the user, while stimulating an appreciation of the democratic political process. It is not simply a record of things past, but a resource to aid in the development of a positive, progressive and informed future for Indigenous Australians, and any person who works towards this end.

Supervised by Associate Professor Scott Heyes

Rhonda Nichols – Honours Project (2015)


Rhonda Nichols

The writing / Reading Connection: Connecting with Stories in Fiji through a Student-led Bookmaking Project

This research thesis offers an ethnographic study exploring the relationship between writing and reading in a Fijian context. The study was undertaken in the remote village of Vuna on the island of Taveuni in Fiji. The parameters of the study were to conduct a student-led bookmaking activity with twelve to fifteen Year 5 students at Vuna District School, observe the study participants during the activity, interview the participants post-activity and interview the teachers via a questionnaire conducted four weeks after the fieldwork was completed. Vuna District School was chosen as the study site due to prior field study experience by the researcher.

The research was designed to study the effect of writing stories, as books, by students and ascertain if their desire to read outside of the classroom situation would increase. This thesis identifies the importance of writing and reading as literacy skills, in general, and specifically for Fijian school students. This thesis unpacks the results of the fieldwork activity and discusses the need for reflexivity and ethically appropriate research methods.

Supervised by Associate Professor Scott Heyes

Philip Hutchinson – PhD (completed in 2015)

Philip Hutchinson

Landscape, power and biopolitics : a Foucauldian analysis of Freshkills Park, New York City

Abstract: This thesis examines the value and role of landscape in the contemporary city. It examines the research question by exploring parks in New York City with a particular focus on a case study of Freshkills Park. Since 1996, Freshkills Park has been developed over the site of the world’s largest landfill: capped and sealed beneath the Park. The research has documented the process prior to decommissioning the landfill and considers the political, cultural and social aspects associated with the process to close the landfill and create the Park. The methodology to examine Freshkills Park adopts and adapts Michel Foucault’s concepts of power-knowledge, discourse and governance to interrogate the role and value of landscape in New York City from the time of Central Park’s creation through to the present day. The research argues that a discourse on parks in New York City emerged during the nineteenth century, but changed over time, thus presenting continuities and discontinuities in that discourse up to the late twentieth century. Freshkills Park is a product of that shifting discourse and was designed accordingly.

This thesis found that the enormous financial and opportunity cost incurred in closing the landfill and creating a park, demonstrates the value that New York City places in parks. The Park can be considered as central to the proper functioning of the city as a social and economic entity in part because parks are connected to mechanisms of disciplinary power and biopolitics. That is, landscape within a city provides a location where biopolitics is revealed and where practices of selfdiscipline are evident. In Foucault’s terms, parks are a necessary component of the administration of the conditions of life, and necessary for the production of a docile and productive population. Entering the twenty-first-century, there were a number of events and contingencies specific to Freshkills Park and Fresh Kills landfill that changed the nature of the Park.

Specifically Freshkills Park has come to represent the threats to New York in the twenty-first-century such as climate change, excessive waste production, even terrorism. Using Freshkills Park to remind citizens of these issues is considered in terms of the tactics of biopolitics. In this case, biopolitics has been extended beyond the scope envisaged by Foucault, and has become associated with the administration of the biosphere. Freshkills Park has altered the discourse on parks, broadening and changing the value of parks in the city, and the value of landscape. Freshkills Parks through its connection with biopolitics demonstrates how parks can be understood to exist within and contribute to systems of neoliberal governance. Through understanding a connection between landscape and processes of power and biopolitics, new constructs of the role and value of landscape in the contemporary city emerge. Landscape can be understood as intimately connected with political and economic spheres, and centrally located within systems of power and knowledge, biopolitics and governance.

Philip’s thesis was supervised by A/Prof Scott Heyes and Assistant Professor Andrew MacKenzie

Elin Persson – Master of Architecture Minor Thesis (University of Melbourne, 2009)

Elin Persson

Patterns of movement within Fijian performance spaces

The research project focuses on the notions of movement within Fijian village spaces. This paper considers performance space in the context of Fijian ceremonial spaces and non-ceremonial spaces. Factors that underpin the codes and protocols on how Fijians move within ceremonial and non-ceremonial spaces such as hierarchy, gender and seniority are explored. Traditional beliefs in the presence of supernatural beings such as spirit gods and spirits of ancestors also affect human behaviour within taboo areas and within performance spaces. Further, natural processes such as tidal movement and diurnal patterns also affect how Fijians move within and between spaces. How these factors inform patterns of movement are discussed here in. Movement of different kinds are explored, in relation to the factors described above, by the use of the metaphor of a potential stage area and its actors. With the support of diagrams, movement in the content of yaqona ceremony, within a church service, celebrations surrounding Fiji day, a boat ride and a dinner situation are discussed. When drawing on my personal experiences and reflections, it is from what I encountered on Moturiki Island and Caqalai Island in the Lomaiviti group, Eastern division, Fiji.

The purpose of this study is to draw awareness to how Fijians relate to their surroundings and to the factors that determine rules on how Fijians move within a particular setting, which might be described as performance space. In a design process, these patterns of movements might be unknowingly overlooked. There are important cultural traditions and beliefs that are necessary to understand in order to make a successful contribution to a traditional built environment.

Elin’s project was supervised by Dr Scott Heyes

Anna Sundman – Master of Architecture Minor Thesis (University of Melbourne, 2009)

From the Foundations Up: The Spatial Configuration of two Communities in Eastern Fiji

This paper explores the spatial configuration of Fijian villages and the relationship between the built environment and social structures. The strictly hierarchical society forms a strong community that is reflected in the physical layout of the villages. Buildings are placed according to order of status, ancestral connection and social responsibilities. This paper focuses on the spatial concepts and configurations of two villages in the Lomaiviti group, eastern Fiji. These villages have been selected as a case study because of their active traditional customs in terms of social organization and cultural practice. The research aims to inform designers about Fijian traditional architecture, its spatial qualities and origin. A better appreciation of these aspects may lead to a new way of thinking about the built environment. If embodied by designers, this could bring about a new style of Fijian architecture that is contemporary, functional and yet congruent with Fijian customs.

Anna’s project was supervised by Dr Scott Heyes