Kearrin is a critical development scholar trained in sociology and international relations. Broadly speaking, his core research interests in social justice and social change have coalesced around three primary themes.

First, is an interest in equitable development. Through fieldwork and ethnographic research methods, Kearrin examines the uneven ways in which development projects and interventions are encountered and experienced by vulnerable communities. This includes a focus on knowledge-power relations between development stakeholders, and an analysis of how processes of development produce new forms of marginalization and disadvantage. In particular, his research in this domain has interrogated development-induced displacement, human rights abuses (including enforced disappearances), and the complex community level transformations that result from national and transnational development initiatives.

Second, is a focus on Asian regionalism and the intensification of south-south cooperation within the region. Here, his interests emanate around both expanding transnational infrastructure connectivity’s and the geopolitics of development – particularly within the Mekong region. Kearrin is examining the consequences of China’s growing presence in Mainland Southeast Asia, and its role in shaping global development norms, priorities and practices.

Third is his exploration of new ways of thinking about development studies pedagogy and global citizenship education. At a time when the global development sector is undergoing profound change, Kearrin’s research looks for improved methods of teaching and learning in the field of development. His work in this domain includes a focus on both tertiary and secondary education, as well as industry partnerships with service-based learning organisations.

Kearrin’s approach to academia is centered on finding creative and collaborative mechanisms for bringing together teaching, research and community engagement activities. To this end, Kearrin was a founding executive committee member of the Development Studies Association of Australia (DSAA) and the Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars (AMSEAS). He is also an executive committee member of the Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network, a Review Editor for Asian Studies Review, and Chair of JCU’s Sustainable Development Working Group.

Kearrin welcomes applications from prospective PhD candidates interested in any of the above research themes. He is also the program convenor of JCU’s Master of Global Development:


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