Q&A with Honours Fellow Josephine Wright

Josie will be undertaking research into the Indonesian coffee industry.

Josephine Wright is one of three students to be awarded an Honours Fellowship at the Sydney Environment Institute in 2016. She’s a fourth year geography student with the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, with a strong interest in issues of food security and environmentally sustainable development. Just last year, she completed a semester abroad in Jakarta, Indonesia and has since been assisting research into coffee certification in Flores, Bali and Java. Josie intends to return to the country for her Honours project to research the role of different discourses and agendas in shaping Indonesia’s food security policy landscape.

Read more about what Josie will be researching this year.


Describe what your Honours thesis is about.

My thesis is focused on global value chains (GVC) specifically focusing on the coffee industry in Indonesia. I will be asking questions about the extent to which Geographical Indications (GIs), which are a kind of producer- driven certification, can contribute to greater environmental and rural development outcomes in Indonesia.

What gap in current research are you trying to fill?

Despite the steady increase in registered GIs in Indonesia there has been very little research done into the effects of GIs in Indonesia or in other developing contexts. My work will be an attempt to integrate GVC theory with more nuanced understandings of territoriality, identity culture and power within the specific localities of production that I will be studying.

What do you think your conclusion/answer will be at the end of your project?

I feel like at this point my conclusions could go either way. I can already see that there are both positive and negative aspects of GIs in Indonesia but I will need more time in the field to figure out whether I think they have the capacity to enhance rural livelihoods or environmental outcomes.

What made you interested in that subject area?

I spent last summer in Indonesia working on a related project as part of the School of Geosciences Summer Scholarship Program. As part of this experience I met many people who were involved in coffee production and I became interested in the value chains that link these producers to broader trade networks, as well as the power relationships operating within these chains.

What bit do you do for the environment?

I really believe that we all have the capacity to make a difference through changes in our consumption patterns. I do a lot of volunteering with the Usyd food co-op and community garden which are groups that both work hard to make sustainable and ethical food more accessible to students. I’ve also been getting involved with the Usyd Enviro collective who are group of students actively working towards environmental education and justice both within the uni and in the broader community.

What are your interests beyond researching?

I’m really into growing food, bushwalking and camping, and practicing my Indonesian.

What do you get up to on a weekend?

I love going to Marrickville Markets and going for bike rides around the city with friends. Otherwise I’m usually down in Kangaroo Valley where my partner lives.

Have you only just lived in Sydney?

I grew up in Port Macquarie and spent a lot of my childhood with family in Inverell so I would say I consider myself a bit of a country kid. I’ve also spent a year living in France and six months in Indonesia.

You can contact Josie via email jwri8730@uni.sydney.edu.au