- Contact Details:
Department of Geography
University of Canterbury Te Whare Wananga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
BA Environmental Studies, Massey University 2001
MPhil Development Studies, Massey University 2005
PhD Human Geography, University of Western Sydney 2013
- Research Areas:
My research interests converge around the home, everyday life, and the body as sites of social change. My empirical work is based in multi-ethnic northwest China and in urban Australia and New Zealand. My recent PhD thesis was titled Babies' Bottoms for a Better World: Hygiene, Modernities, and Social Change in Northwest China and Australasia. The thesis is an in-depth exploration of the transformative potential of nappy-free infant hygiene (among other practices) and hybrid research collectives for social and environmental change that begins in the home. I am currently working with Katharine Mckinnon and Stephen Healy on a project looking at economies of care (particularly maternity care), and beginning a project with others in the collective looking at mapping alternative economic practices in post-quake Christchurch, NZ.
I am also interested more broadly in feminist geography, indigenous epistemologies, community mapping, development studies, the eco-humanities, and embodied ethnographies.
Kelly Dombroski, rochelle stewart withers, trisia farrelly
Much has been written about families and their influence on relationships and research in fieldwork, yet seldom has the absence of family in the field received analytical attention. The authors of this paper contribute to an emerging ‘anthropology of absence’ in a number of ways: We direct the focus of absence away from our participants to reflect on our own children’s absences in the field; we attend to the absence of individual persons whereas work in this field predominantly focuses on material objects and ethnic groups; we argue that the embodied traces felt in our children’s absence make mother-child relationships unique to other unaccompanied fieldwork experiences; we illustrate the relational and contingent character of absence as absence/presence as we examine the agency of our children’s absence on the process and product of our field research; and we reflect on how our children’s absence/presence in the field alters our subjectivities as mother-researchers.
Seeing Diversity, Multiplying Possibility: My journey from post-feminism to postdevelopment with JK Gibson-Graham
As a graduate student I first came into contact with the work and persons of JK Gibson-Graham. As I was mentored and supervised by Katherine Gibson, the piece ‘Building Community Economies: Women and the Politics of Place’ became part of my journey into feminism and feminist postdevelopment research. In this chapter, I highlight three principles I have carried with me from that time until now: starting where you are, seeing diversity, and multiplying possibility. With reference to my own developing research interests, I show how Gibson-Graham’s work is relevant and inspiring in a third wave feminist context.
Dombroski, K. Forthcoming. Seeing Diversity, Multiplying Possibility: My journey from post-feminism to postdevelopment with JK Gibson-Graham. In W. Harcourt (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development. Palgrave.
In water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) literature and interventions, it is common to class households with anything other than private toilets as ‘without sanitation’. This implies that the people who use forms of hygiene and sanitation relying on collective toilets and alternative strategies are somehow unhygienic. Yet residents of Xining (Qinghai Province, China) rely on hygiene assemblages that do not always include private toilets, but nonetheless still work to guard health for families with young children. In this paper, I develop a postdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation based on starting with the place-based hygiene realities already working to guard health in some way, then working to multiply possibilities for future sanitation and hygiene strategies. In this approach, contemporary and future realities may look quite different from those based on private toilets.
Dombroski, K. Forthcoming. 'Multiplying Possibilities: A posdevelopment approach to hygiene and sanitation in Northwest China. Submitted to Asia Pacific Viewpoint.
In this short commentary, I engage with other economic geographers reflecting on whether there is an 'Antipodean' Economic Geography. I argue that this is less a matter of fact and more of a point of gathering: by naming and gathering something called an Antipodean Economic Geography, what possibilities do we enable and disable for new kinds of economies and geographies?
Babies Bottoms for a Better World: Modernities, Hygiene and Social Change in Northwest China and Australasia
This thesis is an in-depth exploration of the transformative potential of nappy-free infant hygiene (among other practices) and hybrid research collectives for social and environmental change that begins in the home.
Dombroski, K. 2013. Babies' Bottoms for a Better World: Modernities, Hygiene and Social Change in Northwest China and Australasia. PhD Thesis. University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia.
In response to the concern expressed by some senior Chinese Studies academics over young scholars 'deserting to the disciplines', Kelly suggests that Gen Y are less interested in 'understanding China' and more interested in interdisplinary, culturally engaged (yet cross-cultural and collective) thinking for a new and better world - of which China is an important part.
Dombroski, K. 2011. Writing in the Margins: Gen Y and the (im)possibilities of 'understanding China'. China Studies Association of Australia Newsletter.
Using story and analysis, this paper explores the role of my (maternal) body in producing ethnographic knowledge, re-envisioning ethnographic fieldwork as an embodied relational engagement with a 'site' or 'space' where a multiplicity of trajectories converge.
Dombroski, K. 2011. 'Embodying Research: Maternal bodies, fieldwork, and knowledge production in Northwest China'. Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies. 7(2): 19-29.
This paper takes a look at the practice of ba niao or 'Elimination Communication', where even very small babies are held out to 'eliminate' their waste rather than using nappies! The cross-cultural awkward engagement between two different hygiene understandings sparks changes in the day-to-day domestic practices of a group of Australasian mothers who rethink their use of hygiene products and other 'stuff'.
Dombroski, K. (2010) Poor mothers are not poor mothers: Cross-cultural learning between northwest China and Australasia. Unpublished conference paper presented atA New Generation of Cross-cultural Researchers: Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney September 2010.