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Dr Catherine Robinson

Biography

I joined the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS in 2003 and coordinate a range of undergraduate and Honours year subjects for the BA Communications, including Introduction to Social Inquiry, Professional Placement, Social Bodies, and Social Science Honours Seminar. I supervise Honours and research students and have held a range of senior administrative positions including Undergraduate Coordinator (for three submajors), Academic Liaison Officer: Communication, and Research Degrees Coordinator: Communication. I have also been active on a range of committees since arriving at UTS, including UTS Research and Research Training Committee, UTS Shopfront External Engagement Committee, Faculty Research Student Matters Committee, Faculty Honours Committee, Faculty Marketing Committee, Communication Curriculum Working Party.

I am engaged in interdisciplinary research within sociologies and social geographies of place, embodiment and emotions. My work has focused on the felt experience of the body and of place within the contexts of homelessness and trauma and is currently broadening to include work on motherhood, identity, breastfeeding and trauma. I contribute to methodological developments within qualitative inquiry, with a particular interest in approaches which ethically engage vulnerable populations and explore the reflexive, bodily and emotional knowledges and experiences of the researcher and researched. Close engagement with health, housing and support services and peak bodies within the NGO sector continues to be a core component of my research practice.

I have also recently been appointed to the Panel of Experts, convened by NSW Department of Family and Community Services to contribute to the development and implementation of the Specialist Homelessness Services reform program, Going Home Staying Home. I was a member of NSW Labour’s Premier’s Council on Homelessness 2010-11.

Before joining UTS, I was a Research Fellow at the Urban Frontiers Program, UWS and prior to that, whilst completing my PhD at UNSW, I was a relief youth accommodation worker at Oasis Youth Support Network, operated by the Salvation Army in inner-city Sydney.

Professional

I am a member of the following:

  • Panel of Experts, Going Home, Staying Home Specialist Homelessness Services Reform Program (NSW Department of Family and Community Services)
  • Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Editorial Board (includes reviewing of research publications and research funding applications)
  • Australian Sociological Association
  • Council to Homeless Persons, Victoria
  • National Homelessness Research Network Partner
  • National Consultative Network Member, Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network
  • Cultural Studies Review Editorial Committee
  • Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement Advisory Committee
Image of Catherine Robinson
Senior Lecturer, Social Inquiry Program
Core Member, Transforming Cultures
BA (UTas), BA (Hons), PhD (UNSW)
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 2721
Room
CB10.05.114

Research Interests

In general my research may be considered interdisciplinary and is embedded in sociology and cultural/social geography. I have an interest in place studies, sociologies and geographies of affect and embodiment and in methodological developments within qualitative inquiry, in particular within ethnography. My work has focused on the felt experience of the body and of place within the contexts of homelessness and trauma and is currently broadening to include work on motherhood, identity, breastfeeding and trauma. I contribute to methodological developments within qualitative inquiry, with a particular interest in approaches which ethically engage vulnerable populations and explore the reflexive, bodily and emotional knowledges and experiences of the researcher and researched. Close engagement with health, housing and support services and peak bodies within the NGO sector continues to be a core component of my research practice.

In recent work (Beside One’s Self: Homelessness Felt and Lived, Syracuse University Press) I have sought to challenge constructions of homelessness through developing understandings of the emotional and corporeal dimensions of homelessness and through exploring the place relations underpinning the experience of homelessness. In doing so I have worked to recast traditional social scientific methodologies - participant observation and interviewing in particular - as firmly embedded in the emotional and corporeal skills and senses of the researcher. This orientation impacts on the way I write about my research where my concern is to push a productive encounter between social scientific and poetic styles.

Can supervise: Yes
I supervise Honours and research students in the areas of qualitative inquiry, cultural and social geography, sociology of emotions and embodiment, homelessness and mental illness. Research areas • Sociologies and geographies of affect and embodiment • Methodological developments within qualitative inquiry (in particular within ethnography, including autoethnography) • Experimental writing and research practice ('corporeography' or writing/knowing through the body) • Mental health, homelessness, violence, trauma, trauma-informed care • The breast, breastfeeding, breastfeeding technologies, failed breastfeeding and motherhood

My teaching draws on the following areas: social and cultural theory, sociology of the body, qualitative research methods, and philosophy of social research. The subjects I teach include: Introduction to Social Inquiry, Professional Placement, Social Bodies, Social Science Honours Seminar. I supervise Honours, Masters and Doctoral students.

Books

Robinson, C. 2011, Beside One's Self: Homelessness Felt and Lived, First, Syracuse University Press, New York.
What is it to feel horneless, to be without the orienting geography of home? Beside One''s Self delivers a response to this question making equally central retrospective reexaminations of my past ethnographic and biographic fieldwork data and reexaminations of my researching body itself as an articulate and data-rich register of the felt dimension of homelessness. As such, this book does not traditionally present the findings of a single ethnographic or biographic study and is instead grounded in an experimental methodological approach that firmly places the researching body at the fieldwork scene and makes explicit the researcher's role as a research participant. Beside One's Self intervenes in the usual qualitative focus on homeless people's narratives by including the researcher's voice among those of the researched and by acknowledging and foregrounding the collaborative and inscriptive nature of affect. More broadly, the book takes up the political valency of such felt resonance with homelessness and contributes to empirical, methodological, and theoretical developments taking place within emotional geography and the sensory ethnography of place. The book can also be read in part as an engagement with the land scape of homelessness in Australia and in particular with the complex issues that connect to prolong the ongoing search for home by a small but significant group for whom hornelessness is a long-term process of cycling through rnultiple forrns of unstable accommodation, squatting, and rough sleeping.
Robinson, C. 2010, Rough living: Surviving violence and homelessness, 1, UTS e press, Sydney, Australia.
This research project emerged in response to the growing number of informal narratives of violent victimisation encountered by staff of Homeless Persons' Legal Service (HPLS) in their work with homeless clients and current and former homeless advocates in Sydney, New South Wales. Despite consistent reports of repeated experiences of violence occurring both before and whilst living homeless, it was observed that little current local documentation or wider policy acknowledgment of these exists. Disturbingly, reports about episodes of violence revealed that positive engagement with responding emergency and support services was rare and in many cases was never even sought, and that the opportunity for the follow-up of past traumatic events was even rarer. Most distressing, however, was the perception identified amongst victims that often brutal and repetitive victimisation was a `normal and accepted part of everyday life in the past and present, and an expected part of everyday life in the future.
Robinson, C. & Searby, R.E. 2005, Accomodation in Crisis: Forgotten Women in Western Sydney, UTS Shopfront, Sydney, Australia.
Robinson, C. 2002, Being somewhere: Young homeless people in inner-city Sydney, School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW.
Unpublished Doctoral Thesis

Chapters

Robinson, C. 2014, 'Trauma: A cause and consequence of homelessness' in Chamberlain, C., Johnson, G. & Robinson, C. (eds), Homelessness in Australia: An Introduction, New South Publishing, Sydney, pp. 213-232.
Robinson, C. 2008, ''Felt homelessness': The contribution of qualitative approaches to homelessness' in Maginn, P., Thompson, S. & Tonts, M. (eds), Qualitative Housing analysis: An International Perspective, Emerald, Bingley, pp. 91-111.
View/Download from: Publisher's site

Conferences

Robinson, C. 2013, 'Breastfeeding Shame and the Birth of the Mother', 2013 Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, TASA, Brisbane.
Robinson, C. 2010, 'The re-making of vulnerability within homelessness'.
Robinson, C. 2007, 'Homelessness as emotion: Defining the affective'.
Robinson, C. 2007, 'Inadmissible evidence: The place of the felt in homelessness'.
Robinson, C. 2006, 'Responding to long-term homelessness: The challenge of qualitative'.
Robinson, C. 2006, 'The place of corporeographic evidence, Paper presented at the Senses of Place Conference'.
Robinson, C. 2005, 'Vulnerable to homelessness: Exclusion and cumulative trauma', TASA 2005 Conference Proceedings, TASA, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-10.
Robinson, C. 2004, 'Address to Council to Homeless Person's AGM'.
'Searching for home: Beyond homelessness as a social problem' Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne November 2004
Robinson, C. 2004, 'Searching for home: Beyond homelessness as a social problem'.
Keynote Address
Robinson, C. 2004, 'Keynote Address, City of Sydney Homelessness Seminar'.
'Doing the geographical': The search for home in the contexts of homelessness and mental disorders', Town Hall, Sydney September, 2004
Robinson, C. 2003, 'Association of Qualitative Research Conference'.
Conference paper: Moving towards stability: Mental health and homelessness July 2003
Robinson, C. 2003, ''Beyond the Divide': The 3rd National Homelessness Conference'.
Conference paper:Healing and stability: Addressing the needs of homeless people with mental disorders April, 2003
Robinson, C. 2002, 'Understanding ongoing homelessnes: The case of people with mental disorders'.
Department of Housing, Brisbane
Robinson, C. 2001, 'House or Home? The Difference Belonging Could Make', TASA 2001 Conference Proceedings [CD ROM], University of Sydney, Sydney.
Refereed
Robinson, C., Harvey, O., Hinton, P. & Sullivan, C. 2001, 'Composite: Postgraduate Conference Proceedings September 22nd 2001', Composite: Postgraduate Conference Proceedings, School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Robinson, C. 2001, 'House and Home'.
Robinson, C. 2001, 'Space and subjectivity'.
Workshop seminar presented at the International Sociological Association Postgraduate Laboratory on Major Theories or Paradigms of Dissertations
Robinson, C. 2001, 'Sensing the Other: The Catch of the Surrendering Self'.
Robinson, C. 2000, 'Inhabiting the self: Belonging, young people and home(less)ness in Sydney', Habitus 2000 Conference Proceedings [CD ROM], Curtin University of Technology, Perth.
Robinson, C. 2000, 'Habitus 2000: A Sense of Place'.
Conference paper: Inhabiting the self: belonging, young people and home(less)ness in Sydney September, 2000
Robinson, C. 1999, 'Paper presented at 'In/between: Negotiating time and space''.
hosted by the Department of History, The University of Sydney.

Journal articles

Robinson, C. 2012, 'Long-term Homelessness, Long-term Trauma', Parity, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 21-22.
Robinson, C. 2009, 'Homelessness felt', Cultural Studies Review, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 167-172.
View/Download from: Publisher's site
There was also the lime at a drop-in meals service when the women at my table forgave my red-faced abstinence from the hospital-mash by sending me forth to claim my unwanted main and dessert portions so they could be packaged in discrete takeaway containers produced from oversized bags and eaten later. [...] I hadn't thought back then about the broken teeth, infected gums and sensitive stomachs of many rough sleepers which wouldn't handle anything substantial or about just how many tiding-over meals could be stretched from a couple of Eskies of boiling water with hotdogs bobbing, from the garbage bags of bread seconds, from the litres of sauce.
Robinson, C. 2008, 'Review of International Perspectives on Rural Homelessness, by Paul Milbourne and Paul Cloke ed', Housing Theory and Society, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 147-149.
Robinson, C. & Searby, R.E. 2006, 'Accommodation in Crisis: Forgotten Women in Western Sydney', Shopfront Monograph Series, vol. 1, pp. 1-36.
This research project set out to identify the need for crisis accommodation of single homeless women in Western Sydney. It was hoped that this need would be identified through records of requests for assistance by homeless women in the region and through interviews with service providers in contact with homeless single women. While an obvious service gap is identified in this report, it is also argued that the recognition and numeration of, and response to single women?s needs is bound up with many broader conceptual and structural difficulties, including: the invisibility of single women as a category of ?deserving? homeless people, the mismatching of crisis accommodation provision and models with likely crisis needs, and the lagging development of suburban infrastructure and growth of suburban homelessness.
Robinson, C. & Searby, R.E. 2006, 'Single Homeless Women in Western Sydney: A Double Invisibility', Parity, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 6-7.
Robinson, C. 2005, 'Grieving home', Social & Cultural Geography, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 47-60.
View/Download from: Publisher's site
Drawing on the growing areas of research on emotional embodiment, this paper develops an understanding of the spatiality of grief as central to the discussion of young people's experiences of homelessness. In the context of my engagement with young homel
Robinson, C. 2005, 'Persistent Homelessness/Persistent Trauma', Parity, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 4-5.
Robinson, C. 2004, 'Giving voice, or taking it away? The therapeutic limits of research', Parity, vol. 19, no. 9, pp. 10-11.
Robinson, C. 2004, 'Searching for home: Beyond homelessness as a 'social problem'', The Grapevine., vol. October, pp. 10-17.
Robinson, C. 2003, ''I've got 33 years of my life to work through!' Understanding iterative homelessness: The case of people with mental disorders', Parity, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 15-16.
Robinson, C. 2002, 'Sensing the other: The Catch of the Surrendering Self', Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 3-15.
Robinson, C. 2002, ''I think home is more than a building': Young homeless people on the cusp of home, self and something else', Urban Policy and Research, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 27-38.
This paper explores research undertaken with young home(less) people in Sydney in which I specifically pursue ideas of home and belonging in the inner city. In a context in which young home(less) people are seen to 'lack' both identity and place, the responses of young people indicate the fragility and importance of relations of space and self.
Robinson, C. 2001, 'Being somewhere', Space and Culture, vol. 11/12, pp. 7-23.
Robinson, C. 2000, 'Creating space, Creating self: Street-frequenting Youth in the City and Suburbs', Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 429-443.

Reports

Robinson, C. 2004, Healing and stability: Addressing the needs of homeless people with mental disorders, Address to NSW Partnerships Against Homelessness, Sydney, Australia.
Healing and stability homeless people with mental disorders
Robinson, C. Urban Frontiers Program, UWS 2003, Squatting: What's the reality? Research Paper No. 17, Sydney.
Robinson, C. Urban Frontiers Program, UWS 2003, Squatting: What's the reality? Research Paper No 17, Sydney.
Robinson, C. Australian Housing and Urban Research Insitute 2003, Understanding Iterative Homelessness: The Case of People with Mental Disorders. Positioning Paper., Melbourne, Australia.
Robinson, C. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute 2003, Understanding iterative homelessness: The case of people with mental disorders. Final Report No 45, pp. 1-55, Melbourne, Australia.
Full project publication list includes four separate works: Positioning Paper, This study aimed to improve our empirical and conceptual understanding of the precursors of homelessness among vulnerable groups. Such a study had not been undertaken previously in Australia. Specifically, the research aimed to improve understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors that cause homelessness among vulnerable populations, paying particular attention to the relationships between social exclusion and the risk of living in tenuous housing situations. The study drew on the concept of incipient homelessness to capture the precarious position of those moving through the marginal housing sector.