Research Fellowship: ‘The Skin of Commerce: the role of plastic packaging in the construction of food security, waste and consumer activism in Australia.’


The role

The successful applicant will work on a project funded by the Australian Research Council titled ‘The Skin of Commerce: the role of plastic packaging in the construction of food security, waste and consumer activism in Australia.’

The project

Plastic packaging has become fundamental to the organization of industrialized food systems and food security. Over the last thirty years it has also emerged as a serious waste and environmental problem. This project investigates the history and impacts of plastic packaging on food markets and waste streams, and evaluates innovative industry strategies to reduce the reliance on plastic. If we live in an over packaged world how might this mundane material and serious waste burden be challenged while still ensuring food supply? Three key issues will be investigated during the study:

1)  the economic and material interactions between the plastics and food industries in post WWII Australia;

2)  how plastic became a ‘political material’ with the rise of consumer concerns about plastic contamination and waste;

3)  a critical assessment of new market practices that aim to reduce plastic packaging.

The project has an empirical and theoretical focus and aims to develop an innovative analytic framework for understanding the role of plastic materials in market, consumer and political processes.

The Research Fellow will work closely with Chief Investigator Professor Gay Hawkins and, to a lesser extent, Dr Andrea Westermann, Partner Investigator at Zurich University. They will be expected to participate in the implementation of the project and the design and management of particular research studies. While it is not expected that the applicant will be involved in all three areas of the study it is expected that they will be able to make a significant contribution to one and possibly two. There will also be the opportunity for collaborative projects with the lead researchers and some limited time to develop your own research agenda.

The person

Applicants should possess a recent PhD in science and technology studies, cultural studies, sociology, geography, material culture studies or other relevant discipline. They should also have a demonstrated ability to publish in quality journals and design and manage research projects relevant to realising the aims of this project. A research interest in cultural engagements with the environment, theories of materiality or markets and consumption, and experience in research administration and the effective promotion of research results are also essential. Excellent writing and analytical skills as well as the ability to work collaboratively are also expected.

The successful applicant must be able to start no later that February 2014.


This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment at Academic Level B for two years.  Appointment on a part-time basis may also be considered.  The remuneration package will be in the range $81,857 – $97,205 p.a., plus employer superannuation contributions of 17% (total package will be in the range $95,773 – $113,730 p.a.)


To discuss this role, please contact Professor Gay Hawkins on +61 7 3346 7416 or email

To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • A response to the Selection Criteria, and
  • A sample of a recent publication.

For information on completing the application process click here.

Application closing date:
15 Sep 2013 11:55pm E. Australia Standard Time
Job No.: 494913
Area: Faculty of Arts
Salary (FTE): Academic Research Level B1 ($81,857.70 – $97,205.75)
Work type: Full Time – Fixed Term
Location: St Lucia

The Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies is a humanities research facility within the Faculty of Arts that commenced operation in January 2000. The objective of the Centre is to foster high quality research and to develop the research performance and culture within the Faculty of Arts. The focus of the centre’s work is interdisciplinary research in the new humanities, critical and social theory, cultural studies, and media studies. The centre is currently supporting a diversity of research projects in the areas of environmental humanities, surveillance studies, media anthropology, cultural history, television studies, film studies and celebrity.

More information can be obtained at the Centre’s web site at