The Alliance for Praxis Research (APR) is a collective formed by HDRs from Monash University and RMIT University with backgrounds in anthropology, heritage, design, urban planning, environmental studies, among others. The alliance between disciplines, institutions and practices creates spaces and encounters for social change and expansion of knowledge.
One of our intentions is to nurture transdisciplinary collaborations across faculties, research programs and labs, as academics are often confronted with the challenges to break through disciplinary and institutional silos. That is significant for students and early careers, particularly when coming from overseas, who are not familiar with universities’ organisation of research centres and local networks of scholars - especially in Melbourne, where several leading universities are located but improvements on their interconnections are still much needed.
Nature always had a place of wonder for me as a kid growing up in a metropolis like São Paulo, an intense city that offers rare glimpses of green, fresh air and clean running water. Throughout my academic education I sought knowledge and practices that could guide process of ecological regeneration in our settlements and territories, with a special interest in the flows of water through urban space. This journey revealed to me the central role of people’s power to promote local and systemic change when individuals and communities come together for action through emancipatory practices. My work draws from political ecology and urban geography literature to ask how waterscapes, or the ways society relates with water, can be re-imagined and governed with more socio-ecological equality.
Ana Lara Heyns
Mexican Mestiza. Writer, dancer, podcaster and also doing a PhD. As a child that grew up in diverse worlds, her identity and belonging have been the centre of her research. First as part of a research understanding in-betweenness of two identities living in the same territory, and later as a migrant. I've always been intrigued by flows of wind and water, which led me to travel the world through my research. I focus on ‘Experiences’ of travel, ‘experiences’ of belonging, and more recently ‘experiences’ of Waterscapes and Country. Today, as a geo-anthropologist I have the double responsibility to decolonise my thoughts and disciplines through my research, creativity and practice.
A young scholar with practical experience, intrigued by cities, their people, and complexities. What inspires me the most to do my research are the everyday life activities and experiences of culturally rich urban environments. My curiosity lies in understanding how invisible interactions and the own (co)existence of diverse bodies in public spaces can make people reflect, perceive, feel and experience urbanicity. Much of what brings me to this context today is my lived experience as a queer, Latino, immigrant, traveller, and nature lover person. My evolving identity is inevitably infused with my professional experience. The lenses I bring from my journey in the environmental analysis and ecology field help me to see the world as this complex ever-changing system of living elements, relations, and landscapes.
Rachel is a producer and arts administrator interested in subversive practices within the public realm, working on the unceded lands of Kulin Nation. She is completing a PhD exploring alternative socio-spatial use of public space from a heritage framework and the impact it has on the ambience of a city. She is interested in the nexus between the formal and informal city, and how this plays out in the use, meaning-making, and governance of ‘place’. Rachel runs a small tactical urbanism lab called Public Street, and is driven by collaborative, subversive, interdisciplinary and alternative practice (both in mode and outcome) that is reflective of the depth, complexity and beautiful chaos of public space.
From a young age I remember being frustrated, upset, and angry at the injustice that existed within society. I didn’t understand why, but all I remember was that things seemed incredibly unfair. I knew I wanted to do something, to make a difference, but I didn't know how. This desire to make things better is what drives me to do what I do, and is how I situate myself within the world. At this stage of my life I find myself undertaking a PhD which seeks to understand how social movements and grassroots activism can act as a catalyst for social change. Ultimately I seek to use this research to find democratic ways to transform society by mobilising people to collectively challenge inequitable and unjust social and cultural norms.