The Centre for Critical Studies was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Dr Catherine Phillips

ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies


Catherine Phillips' research explores nature-society relations, particularly those involving agriculture and food. She is curious abut the ways in which these relations are formed, understood, and contested in everyday life in (dis)connection with governance efforts. Her recent book, Saving More Than Seeds: Practices and Politics of Seed Saving, draws on ethnographic research to analyse the learning, relations, and politics involved in seed saving. Further, it situates these practices in an international economic and political context by detailing seed-related neoliberalisation processes, intellectual property rights strategies, and global genebanking efforts. Catherine's work encompasses cultural geography, science and technology studies, food studies, and environmental studies. She has engaged in fieldwork in Australia, Canada, and South Africa. In addition to her research, Catherine has also taught courses in geography, environmental science and studies, development studies, and political studies.


BArts (Hons PolSci), Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada); MA (DevSt/PolSci), University of Guelph (Canada); PhD (EnvSt), York University (Canada)


  • Cultures, geographies, and politics of agrifood
  • Everyday practices
  • Environmental governance
  • Multinatural relations 
I welcome applications from prospective PhD students working in any of the above areas.


Catherine is currently working in two areas, both of which relate to material politics of agriculture and food.
Research with Gay Hawkins for The Skin of Commerce explores the roles of plastic in the agrifood system taking into account not only its valuable role in food preservation and safety, but also its impacts on waste streams in natural and built environments. The project analyses the historical, socio-technical, and political relationships between plastic, food, and waste.
Continuing with research into insect-people-plant relations begun at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, Catherine is exploring commercial and amateur beekeeping as they relate to pollination, biosecurity, and conservation.
Additional collaborations are in train regarding people-plant relations in biosecurity (Lesley Head/Jenny Atchison), insect eating as a food security measure (Paul Stock, Hugh Campbell, Anne Murcott), and food wasting as visceral politics (Gordon Waitt).


Phillips, C. 2013. Saving More Than Seed: Practices and Politics of Seed Saving. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. ISBN: 9781409446514
Phillips, C., ed. 2004. Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship. Oxford, UK: Inter-disciplinary Press. ISBN: 1904710131
Book Chapters
Phillips, C. 2010. Permaculture. In: Green Food: An A-to-Z Guide. ed. D. Mulvaney. Green Society Series, series ed. P. Robbins. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. ISBN: 9781412996808
Phillips, C. 2006. Conserving and Growing Alternatives: Theorizing seed saving and exchange networks. In: Building Sustainable Communities: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship, eds. J.D. Wulfhorst and A.K. Haugestad. New York: Rodopi. ISBN: 9042021233
Phillips, C. 2004. Growing Citizenships: Food Activists, Rights and Citizenship. In: Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, ed. C. Phillips. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary Press. ISBN: 1904710131
Gilbert, L. and Phillips C. 2004. Political Natures: Re-appropriation of home and water rights in Toronto. In: Rights to the City, eds. D. Wastl-Walter, L. Staeheli and L. Dowler. Rome: Societa Geografica Italiana. ISBN: 9788888692081
Refereed Journals
Head, L., Atchison, J. and Phillips, C. (accepted) The Distinctive Capacities of Plants: insights from an Adversarial Relationship. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.
Phillips, C. 2014. Following beekeeping: More-than-human practice in agrifood. Journal of Rural Studies, 36.
Head, L., Atchison, J., Phillips, C. and Buckingham, K. (2014). Vegetal Politics: belongings, practices, and places. Social and Cultural Geography, special issue, 15(8).
Head, L., Atchison, J., Phillips, C. and Buckingham, K., eds. (2014). Special issue: Vegetal Politics, Social and Cultural Geography, 15(8).
Phillips, C. 2013. Living Without Fruit Flies: Biosecuring horticulture and its markets. Environment and Planning A, 45(7). 
Phillips, C. 2008. Canada’s Evolving Seed Regime: Relations of industry, state, and seed savers. Environments, 36(1). 
Phillips, C. 2006. Cultivating Practices: Seed saving as green citizenship? Environments, 33(3).
Gilbert, L. and Phillips, C. 2003. Practices of Urban Environmental Citizenships: Rights to the city and rights to nature in Toronto. Citizenship Studies, 7(3).


A full list of Dr Phillip’s publications, including fulltext links, can be accessed via UQ eSpace.

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