Congratulations to our students

The School of Social and Cultural Studies would like to heartily congratulate all our students who should be enjoying the red carpet treatment at the May graduation. It is always a special time to recognise the brilliant achievements of our many undergraduates and Honours students.

We also really appreciate the chance to applaud our excellent Masters and PhD theses graduates with whom we work so closely. Many congratulations to these superb scholars, as well as to their much-admired supervisors. We look forward to celebrating in person with you soon.

Evelyn Walford-Bourke

Our warmest congratulations go to Evelyn Walford-Bourke, who has just passed her Anthropology Masters’ thesis with Distinction! Evelyn’s thesis is titled “Scraping by and Making Do: Navigating New Zealand’s Welfare System”. It offers a strong intervention into our understanding of the kinds of networks that beneficiaries must form in order to navigate the complex webs of bureaucratic procedures and the gaps in service provision within the New Zealand welfare system. Her argument, that the work of filling such gaps reflects both the historical and on-going reformation of social welfare provision and the under-riding logics of ‘deservedness’, offers an important window into the experiences of beneficiaries as a whole. She does this by making a conceptual argument about the history of welfare in New Zealand, an ethnographic argument documenting the experiences of recipients through their reflections, and through ethnographic observation of NGOs and religious social service providers in Wellington (Supervisor:Eli Elinoff and Lorena Gibson).

Judah Seomeng’s MA thesis in Anthropology looked at the settlement experiences of former refugees from the Luo community in Africa. Concentrating on health and wellbeing, he examined how pre-migration experience continues to have a strong influence on well-being, as well as initial support. The rapid drop off of support after six weeks for newly arrived refugees leaves a gaping hole which has ongoing effects even years afterwards. That, along with a lack of cultural competence among medical practitioners, experiences of racism, and inter-generational differences in integration have long-term effects on integration and well-being. His thesis, created from qualitative interviewing with members of the community, is full of personal and sometimes heart-breaking stories of the very real difficulties encountered by refugees moving to New Zealand, and it has important policy recommendations for improving experiences, integration, and long-term well-being. Judah was self-supported during his university studies, and findings from his thesis will be published by Multi-cultural New Zealand. Ayca Arkilic (International Relations, VUW) and Caroline Bennett are proud to have supervised Judah and to see him succeed in this important research (Supervisors: Caroline Bennett and Ayca Arkilic).

Liv Anderson

Olivia Anderson was introduced to the issues of organ trafficking, transplant tourism and commercial transplantation during her Honours degree in Criminology. After discovering the dearth of research on New Zealand residents involved in these practices, Olivia was inspired to pursue the topic at Master’s level. Olivia’s Master’s thesis in Sociology considered the barriers to kidney transplantation in New Zealand and how these, coupled with patients’ illness experiences, may encourage consideration of transplantation overseas. The thesis highlighted some of the ethical, legal and professional dilemmas encountered by medical professionals who are confronted with such patients. Since graduating with a Distinction, Olivia has been working for the New Zealand Police (Supervisor: Rhonda Shaw).


Shannon Mower is graduating with an MA (Distinction) in Criminology. She interviewed twelve clients of sex workers for her thesis, which is the first ever study of the experiences of clients in the decriminalised context of New Zealand. The research was particularly important in the context of speculation regarding the conduct of clients from opponents of decriminalisation internationally. Shannon found that the behaviour of those she interviewed was driven by an awareness of the rights of sex workers. Interviews revealed a number of ethical considerations, and the participants were aware of sex workers' boundaries and the importance of respecting them. The work therefore challenges speculation about the conduct of clients, providing a more nuanced and complex insight that adds to the existing evidence on decriminalisation. Since finishing her thesis, Shannon has written a chapter for publication in an edited book, which will be published in July this year. She is currently working as an analyst for the Department of Corrections (Supervisors: Lynzi Armstrong and Jan Jordan).

Haezreena Abdul Hamid

Haezreena (Reena) Abdul Hamid is awarded her PhD in Criminology. Her background as an Advocate and Solicitor in Malaysia led to her commitment to investigate the treatment of women who were arrested and incarcerated on the grounds of ‘sex trafficking’. Her thesis (Sex Trafficking, Victimisation and Agency) explores how victim-protection policies to address ‘victims’ of trafficking are developed and practiced through a lens of criminalisation. Drawing on her interviews with 29 women held as ‘sex trafficking victims’, as well as 12 ‘anti-trafficking’ professionals in Malaysia, Reena demonstrates how state practices (re)victimise women through traumatising and violent policing, incarceration and deportation processes. However, she also provides an understanding of the ways in which ‘sex-trafficked’ women exercise courage, strength and resiliency in the face of the continuing harms against them. In doing so, she argues that the state’s prevention of sex-trafficking as well as the protection of trafficked women cannot be progressively advanced without a fuller appreciation of women’s dual ‘victim’ and ‘agent’ identities. Reena is currently a Teaching Fellow in Criminology, co-ordinating a third year course on Human Trafficking (Supervisors: Elizabeth Stanley and Jan Jordan).

Ricardo Quirarte

In December 2019, Ricardo Quirarte was awarded a PhD in Sociology for his thesis on "The Contradictions of Masculinity: Desire, emotions and masculine identities of seven heterosexual Mexican Men". His thesis took a collaborative narrative approach to the analysis of video diaries produced by seven Mexican men in which they explored aspects of their sexual-affective relationships with women. The narratives highlight these men's daily navigation between multiple forms of masculinity and the hegemonic system embedded within them. The thesis demonstrates the value of an affective methodology for working with men to analyse masculinities and reveals the contradictions of being a man situated in a privileged position in a social context that increasingly questions that privilege and the system that maintains it. Ricardo began a two-year fixed term lectureship in the Sociology Programme this year and teaches courses on masculinities and power, institutions and social change (Supervisors: Carol Harrington and Sara Kindon).

Sitti Sani Nurhayati’s PhD in Religious Studies is entitled “Contested Identities: Tuan Guru and Ahmadiyyah in the Redrawing of post-1998 Sasak-Muslim Boundary Lines in Lombok”. Her study focuses on the violence towards Ahmadiyah in Sitti Sani Nurhayati’s native Lombok. Her fieldwork focused on three villages – Pemongkong, Pancor and Ketapang – where attacks had occurred and included interviews with government officials, police, members of militias, religious and political leaders, journalists, and affected villagers. Her research offers a new way of understanding the violence in terms of contested local religious leadership and the championing and reconfiguration of religio-ethnic identity in Lombok after 1998. This local study makes a strong contribution to the understanding of religion and identity in post-Suharto Indonesia (Supervisors: Paul Morris, Geoff Troughton and Eva Nisa).

Toni Carr

Toni Carr gradueated with her PhD in Criminology. Toni’s thesis is a critical study of the Alcohol and other Drug Treatment Court (AODTC). Informed by similar models in the United States, the AODTC is one of a growing number of specialist problem-solving courts in New Zealand. It is portrayed as an innovative response that reduces reoffending by treating addiction while supporting offenders’ health and wellbeing. However, this research found that the Court is a largely unregulated space that allows wide judicial discretion. Collaboration with treatment providers created a range of significant harms for participants and the focus on ‘addiction as a disease’ and ‘abstinence’ as both a goal and measure of progress invited judicial subjectivity that placed considerable burdens on participants. More broadly, the research found that in meting out punishment under the guise of treatment, the Court prevented some participants from accessing treatment and breached the principle of proportionality in its response to offending and programme non-compliance. It found that Māori, women, transgender people, and offenders with a coexisting disorder and brain injury, in particular, are less likely to have access to effective treatment and proper support. In being the first of its kind in New Zealand, Toni’s thesis will be an invaluable resource for researchers interested in specialist courts and our responses to drug and alcohol offending (Supervisors: Trevor Bradley and Yvette Tinsley).