Published 16 October 2019
Postdoctoral Research Fellow Kate Johnston has been part of the Institute for over five years, first working in agri-food and sustainability discourses as a PhD student in the Department of Gender and Culture.
Her thesis, Sustaining More Than Fish: Tradition and Transformation In Environmental Conflicts analysed the discursive and material relationship between culture and sustainability through the case study of tuna and la tonnara – a tuna trap fishery used for many centuries in Southern Italy. Combining interdisciplinary methods from cultural studies, the environmental humanities and food sustainability studies, Kate critically examined the ubiquitous term sustainability and conducted ethnographic research across Italy to consider how local tuna fishing communities are implicated in global marine policy, campaigns, tastes and industries.
Following on from her PhD research, Kate joined the Sustainable Fish Lab in 2014 as a research associate alongside Dr Elspeth Probyn. The project, which ran over several years, explored sustainable ways to farm the ocean, by reconciling scientific models of eco-sustainability with the cultures of local fishing communities and the budget-defined regimes of commodified ‘taste’ and ‘choice’. The project’s multi-level approach to integrate radically competing and often antithetical models and practices of ‘fish’ as they move from sea to table, laboratory to policy, farm to food, was truly innovative, and the project culminated in a series of public talks, field trips and a conference, Sustaining the Seas, co-organised by Kate in December 2017.
Kate went on to work as lead researcher on a partnership between USYD and Taronga Conservation Society, developing and trialling a holistic tool for measuring socio-cultural, economic and ecological dimensions of conservation. In 2018, the SEI welcomed Kate back into her current position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC funded project FoodLab Sydney.
Kate is currently on parental leave and over the weekend she and her partner Gary Cox welcomed their beautiful new baby, Tilda Dawn, to the world. Kate’s contributions to the Institute over the past five years have been integral to our evolution and we are so thrilled to share this news.
We wish Kate and Gary all the best over the next few months while they take some well deserved time off to spend with their daughter.