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Postgraduate research

Postgraduate research in Gender Studies


Simon Clay

What does 'self-care' look like? Is it yoga, vibrant green smoothies, and #blessed? Would it involve having a joint after a long day? What about condomless sex with anonymous people? My research seeks to argue 'All of the above' by investigating what self-care means for gay men and how practices of self-care shift across the community.

I'm particularly fascinated with non-normative approaches that carry connotations of risk and involve drugs, alcohol, and/or condomless sex. Drawing from a wide-breadth of theory that include post-structural feminisms and philosophy, queer theory, literature, post-humanism, and affect, my research seeks to promote a new way of understanding how gay subjectivity and health intersect.

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Kirsten Gibson

Kirsten Gibson is a PhD student in Gender Studies who is researching post-prison experiences. Her research is focusing on those who have been incarcerated in women’s prisons in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Originally hailing from Dunedin, Kirsten has spent a large portion of her life In Auckland, the United Kingdom and more recently Wellington where she completed a BA Hons and MA in Criminology. Returning to her “roots” she decided to embark on a PhD journey at Otago. She has developed a passion for research that aims to shine a light on the voices of those who are often silenced.

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Postgraduate research in Sociology


Mariam Abdul-DayyemMariam

We all know it – the internet and social media are rapidly changing our world and reshaping the nature of humanity. But Mariam Abdul-Dayyem says a lot of our knowledge is taken for granted – we don’t actually know what is really happening.

A curiosity to understand this led Mariam to her PhD topic – the impact of social media on social movements within the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“Social media is challenging traditional sociology because the socialisation isn’t happening face to face – its virtual. It’s interesting to see how sociology can adapt and deal with these changes.”

“Quite a lot of research focused on the internet is out-dated; when the internet was first invented people would go to internet cafes, to universities, to public places, now everyone has the internet in their hands (smart phones). There is a big need, all the time, for new research.”

A PhD in Sociology wasn’t always on the cards for Mariam, who originally did her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.

“I have worked in many fields such as teaching and for the Coca-Cola Company and realised I didn’t want to work purely in science – I wanted to work more with people so I started a master’s degree in Sociology.”

Originally from Palestine, Mariam completed her masters at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, exploring student perceptions of martyrs during conflict.

“From my masters I learnt there is a need for sociologists to be more active within their own research. I understood how important it was to have this discourse in the interviews with the people – it’s about engaging the people in the question.”

This activist approach is one Mariam plans to bring into her PhD research.

It was friends from Hebrew University that recommended she come to the University of Otago for her PhD.

“My friend was studying here and she said it was like being on vacation. We are from crazy, crowded cities and it can take the energy out of you – in Dunedin you don’t have to worry about that, you can just focus on study.”

“It’s like paradise - I love the nature, I love the people, and maybe it’s because we are in such a natural setting but there is something different about the rhythm and pace – it’s nice and slow – you have this kind of relief.”

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Steve Glassey

Steve GlasseyI left the SPCA in late 2017 after being the final CEO for Wellington SPCA prior to the national merger. Only months earlier, I had lead the largest animal rescue operation in our country’ history as head of SPCA Rescue following the Edgecumbe floods. There were many lessons to be learnt and this event was a key motivator to embark on my PhD with Otago to provide the first major domestic study of a companion animal disaster response with a view to evaluate laws and practices to afford better protection to these animals and their human guardians.

“Its been a real privilege to be supported by Otago University with a scholarship to immerse myself in this topic. I thought I had a good grasp of the subject before I started, but I am finding out new areas that have never been researched before, especially around animal disaster law and the incident management of animal emergencies. Having three supervisors from very different backgrounds (sociology, bioethics, and law) is adding huge value to my research and it is growing my critical thinking and challenging some of my own assumptions. I have found my supervisors and support staff (especially from the library) amazing and I am stoked to be doctoral candidate at the University of Otago."

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Romulo Nieva Jr

Romulo Nieva imageRoms is a public health professional and advocate whose work in practice and research lies at the nexus of women’s health, community development and social policy.

Currently, he is a PhD student in the Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme. His PhD research project is about the reproductive wellbeing of women in prisons in the Philippines. He aims to explore the socio-ecological dimensions of incarceration and reproductive health using a reproductive justice framework. Before joining the doctoral programme at Otago, he worked as a policy research and advocacy associate at Zuellig Family Foundation in the Philippines. He led the policy research projects on health leadership and governance, adolescent reproductive health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS. He was also a part-time lecturer at Review University for Nurses, with teaching interests and expertise in research methods and community health.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (Cum Laude) from Bukidnon State University, and a Master in Health Social Science degree from De La Salle University-Manila through a Ford Foundation Endowment Scholarship.

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Myunik Panthi

MyunikI am a PhD student in Sociology and have completed an MPhil in Population Studies from the Tribhuvan University, Nepal. I have chosen the University of Otago as my educational destination due to its international reputation in quality education. I am focusing my research on the leisure activities of older people residing in rest homes and the impact of these on their quality of life.

The leisure activities among older people is a growing concern in New Zealand due the ageing population and the fact that they have more free time than other age groups. From the perspective of gerontologists, participation in leisure activities in later life is associated with lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression and improves the cognitive skills and enhances the quality of life. However, these issues in rest homes have been overlooked. My research will employ a mixed method approach for the in-depth understanding of the available leisure facilities to older adults and the effects of these on their life.

I am working under the guidance of Professor Dr. Amanda Barusch and Dr. Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott and am grateful to have their wonderful supervision. Their instruction always helps me strengthen my skills and prepares me to fulfil my goal.

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Completed theses supervised by Gender Studies staff

  • O'Dwyer-Strang, Nell (2017) What happens when the birds are sexting and the bees watch pornography? Digital sexualities, sexuality education and New Zealand adolescents, MA.
  • McMartin, Anna (2017) Rational economic families: Social reproduction and social policy in 1980s and 1990s New Zealand, PhD.
  • Temple, Lisa (2017) Gendered Health Technologies: The medicalisation of sexuality and the embodiment of reproduction, MA.
  • Bremer, Anastasia (2015) Beauty and the Bump: Celebrities, social media and the consumption of pregnancy, MA.
  • Knowles, Georgia (2015) Looking at Rape Prevention: An analysis of the representations of sexuality, gender and rape myth in rape prevention poster campaigns, MA.
  • Leask, Marita (2014) Exceptional Choices? A discursive examination of abortion discourses in New Zealand, MA.
  • Paris, Anna (2013) "I'm doing it for me": A Foucauldian feminist engagement with practices of bodily transformation, PhD.
  • Bremer, Anastasia (2012) I won't have what she's having: Why remaining intentionally childfree is still an issue, BA(Hons).
  • Burke, Christopher (2012) Speak to Me, Stranger: Subjectivity, homosexuality and the preliberation narratives of James Courage, PhD.
  • Hine, Gabrielle (2011) Shaping Motherhood: Representations of pregnancy in popular media, PhD.
  • Smith, Dianne (2010) Deci-belles: Gender and power in sound engineering for popular music in New Zealand, PhD.
  • Aronsen, Rebecca (2008) Televising Transformation: A close analysis of extreme makeover and the swan, MA.
  • Brady, Anita (2008) Constituting Queer: Performativity and commodity culture, PhD.
  • Pearman, Louise (2008) Men and Masqueraders: Cross-gendered identity and behaviour in New Zealand, 1906-1950, MA.
  • Cullen, Lynda (2007) From Wonder Woman to Aeon Flux: Women heroes, feminism and femininity in post-war New Zealand, MA.
  • Brown, Diana (2006) Between Lab and Kitchen: The unconventional career of Dr Muriel Bell, MA.
  • Webster, Elaine (2006) Similarities and Differences in New Zealand School Uniforms: Issues of identity, PhD.
  • Finney, Margaret (2002) Rhetorics of Transgression and Compliance in the Autobiographical Writing of Jean Rhys, Anais Nin and Gertrude Stein, PhD.

Completed theses supervised by Sociology staff

  • Penelope Kinney (2018) Becoming an Ex-Forensic Psychiatric Client: Transitioning to recovery within the community, PhD.
  • Md Mafuzur Rahman (2018) Fertility Stalls in Bangladesh, PhD.
  • Karly Ann Burch (2018) Eating a Nuclear Disaster: A vital institutional ethnography of everyday eating in the aftermath of Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, PhD.
  • Elizabeth Simmons (2017) Sustainable Development and Sustainable Wine New Zealand: Bridging neoliberal statecraft and locally appropriate development, MA.
  • Darryl Grant (2016) When Research is a Dirty Word: Sovereignty and Bicultural Politics in Canada, Australia and New Zealand Ethics Policies, PhD.
  • Madeline Hall (2016) From 'Producers' to 'Polluters': Farmers' experience in the Lake Taupō Water Quality Trading Program, MA.
  • David Reynolds (2016) The Depoliticisation of Deprivation: Food Insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand, MA.
  • Cinzia Piatti (2016) Enacting the alter-native: A theoretical reframing of local food initiatives in Aotearoa/New Zealand, PhD.
  • Chambers, Amber Poppy (2015) Expecting the Unexpected: How Novice Researchers Negotiate Unexpected Ethical Issues, MA.
  • Daniher, Roland (2015) Scary Uncertainty: An Analysis of Social-Role Control among Community-Dwelling Retirees in New Zealand, MA.
  • Hoseit, Annelore (2013) Let's get mobile: Unearthing issues of importance for adolescent mobile phone users, MA.
  • Stoddart, Alison (2013) A matter of waste: making experiences and perceptions of household food waste visible, MA.
  • Grant, Darryl (2012) Paradox lost?: Four theoretical perspectives on Whānau Ora, MA.