Monthly Archives: January 2017

Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power Show

In which the Nerds put away their penchant for kinetic energy weapons and kill ratios to talk about alternatives to war as politics by other means: soft power and cultural diplomacy.  With an expert panel they discuss the definition of the concept, its origins and what it looks like in practice, using Australia and China as two key case examples.  In the final part of the show, the Nerds talk about a new book on state succession and formation.


  • Dr Stewart Jackson, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
  • Dr Amanda Elliott, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney


  • Distinguished Professor Ien Ang, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
  • Professor Jocelyn Chey, Director, Australia China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University,
  • Dr Ryan Griffiths, Department of Government, University of Sydney

With post-show chatter and a book give away!

Podcast Special: Interview with Farah Naz

A full length interview with Farah Naz (University of Sydney), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “Digital age, extremism and radicalisation”

The abstract for the paper is:

    This paper aims to better understand the role of digital media in the age of extremism and radicalisation. Many academic scholarships suggest controlling digital media as a key weapon to control radicalization of the society, but is it possible to control digital media in the 21st century. When it becomes the right of every individual to have factual information about everything. To contribute to the existing scholarship, this study is based on primary and secondary data drawn from a variety of sources: interviews with the youth, terrorists and extremist, police and terrorist investigation officers responsible for terrorist activities, government data, newspaper and journal articles. The sample population will be small and will be taken entirely from Islamabad, Pakistan. The reason for a small sample population is due to the sensitive nature of the topic where information in the public domain is limited and also there is a limited number of individuals ready to speak about it with researcher in this field. This research paper will outline some of the key aspects of the digital media both positive and negative. It will also touch upon some of the problematic misunderstanding of the terms extremism and radicalisation in the digital age, and will draw some lessons to counter extremism and radicalisation in the digital age.

Podcast Special: Interview with Heath Whiley

A full length interview with Heath Whiley (University of Tasmania), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “Appointing royal commissions for political gains: is it a bad thing?”

The abstract for the paper is:

    Discourse on royal commissions indicates that they are appointed for either policy advisory or inquisitive reasons. Recent trends in Australia point to a third reason for the appointment of royal commissions, namely their appointment for political advantage. This paper argues that a political advantage through a royal commission occurs through blame avoidance, the shaping of the political agenda and to gain a political edge over competing parties or interests groups. Reviews of recent royal commissions into trade union corruption, natural disasters, child sex abuse and the home insulation program illustrates a developing trend for them to be established for political gain. The act of establishing a royal commission for political advantage can quite commonly be seen as politicising its process, recommendations and conclusions. This can limit its effectiveness because a royal commission is independent from the government that establishes it. This research recognises the seriousness of each royal commission it discusses, and elaborates on both the disadvantages and advantages of their use for political gain.

Podcast Special: Interview with Joanna Vince

A full length interview with Dr Joanna Vince (University of Tasmania), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled Swimming in plastic soup: Governance solutions to the marine debris problem”, written with Britta Denise Hardesty (CSIRO).

The abstract for the paper is:

    Plastic marine debris has been found in every ocean and coastal area in the world (STAP 2011; Ivar do Sul & Costa 2014). The impacts on the marine ecosystem are profound with nearly 700 marine species being found to interact with marine debris through ingestion and/or entanglement (Gall & Thompson 2015; GEF 2012). It is estimated that three quarters or more of litter in our ocean comes from land-based sources (Hardesty et al. 2014) making this as much a transboundary global problem as a local issue. Governance arrangements, at present, are unable to provide the necessary solutions to large scale mitigation, prevention and/or removal of marine debris. We examine the governance arrangements on a global level, and Australia’s national and local policy responses. We identify community and market based strategies that are making progress with prevention and removal where government policies are lagging behind. We argue that a new, legally binding international agreement will provide guidance to mitigation on a global scale and that nationally a large scale integrated policy approach can make a difference to the marine debris problem in Australian waters. Integrated policy approaches, also known as type VIII policies (Howlett and del Rio 2015) are regarded as the most complex and difficult policy mixes. Despite being been prone to policy failure as suggested by Vince (2015), we argue that due to the complex, transboundary nature of the marine debris problem and the urgency for mitigation, it is the policy solution that may be most effective.

Podcast Special: Interview with Nicholas Munn

A full length interview with Dr Nicholas Munn (University of Waikato), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “Voting, Rights and Compulsion”.

The abstract for the paper is:

    In this paper, I examine the benefits to democratic legitimacy conferred by compulsory voting regimes, and question the degree to which these benefits in fact arise from the fact of compulsion, rather than from other aspects of institutional practice which occur (in a jurisdiction like Australia) concurrently with it. In particular, I argue that a significant amount of the benefit of compulsory voting comes not from the fact of voting being compulsory, but from the infrastructure which is required to reasonably support a compulsory voting system. Where this is the case, it is the provision of sufficient voting infrastructure that generates the democratic advantages appealed to by proponents of compulsory voting, and this infrastructure is positive independently of compulsion. I explore whether compulsory voting is a) necessary for, or b) the best way to achieve, the desired outcomes of widespread participation and resulting legitimacy in democratic outcomes. I claim that we can achieve these outcomes without compulsion, and discuss whether we should attempt to do so.