Miranda Forsyth awarded ARC Future Fellowship

Miranda Forsyth
Miranda Forsyth_RegNet

Congratulations to Miranda Forsyth on being awarded the prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC)Future Fellowship for her project, Overcoming violence and building peace in conditions of complexity in PNG.

From her very early days as a volunteer prosecutor working on criminal cases arising from witchcraft accusations in Vanuatu, Professor Miranda Forsyth has seen firsthand how real the cultural belief in sorcery is and the significant effect it has on people’s lives and the community. A socio-legal and regulatory scholar in Melanesia, she has since been advocating against sorcery accusations and related violence (SARV) and the associated human rights abuses.

Her latest project, Overcoming Violence and Building Peace Amidst Conditions of Complexity in PNG and Beyond, has earned her a Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC). The research aims to develop new conceptual models and frameworks to better understand, prevent and respond to the dynamics of violence across time and space in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In World Report 2022, Human Rights Watch stated that violence against women and girls in PNG is rampant with over 1.5 million experience gender-based violence each year.

“Preventing and limiting violence is one of the greatest challenges we collectively face today, and understanding how to do it better is the central focus of this Future Fellowship,” Professor Forsyth says.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to investigate the best means to address the violence that is destroying lives and communities in PNG, and to learn from the amazing work being done by grassroots peace-builders.”

The project will be based on an interdisciplinary investigation of the drivers and inhibitors of three different, but interrelated, forms of violence in PNG: tribal fighting, SARV and family and sexual violence.

Professor Forsyth believes these forms of violence have been exacerbated by harms perpetuated through practices and processes of colonialism and globalisation, and have widespread negative impacts for women, men and children across multiple dimensions of social development.

“Each form of violence leads to pervasive, long-term, intergenerational and psychological trauma, which results in poor education, housing uncertainty, and food insecurity. All these undermines an already weak state health, welfare and security systems,” she explains.

“Working in PNG for the past ten years has revealed to me both the extremes of violence and the creativity, resilience and bravery of Papua New Guinean men and women. Most studies of violence in PNG focus on just one form of violence, but I have realised that they are often linked to each other.

“This project is an opportunity to examine how different forms of violence catalyse and exacerbate other forms, and what effective mechanisms can be used to prevent and intervene across all forms of violence.”

RegNet School Director Professor Kate Henne commended Professor Forsyth on the Future Fellowship.

“The widespread negative impacts of violence on women, men and children highlight the importance of this research. Miranda has an excellent track record, especially when it comes to carrying out research with societal impact. This project will provide important insights for civil society, grassroots governance institutions, government and international organisations,” she says.

“This remarkable achievement marks the third ARC Future Fellowship for RegNet in three years. As a school that supports cutting-edge research, we are so pleased to see Miranda recognised in this way. Her Future Fellowship project exemplifies the important interdisciplinary work we do in RegNet and the College of Asia and the Pacific.”

The research will enhance international collaboration and produce a range of theoretical and applied benefits to international, national and local stakeholders committed to overcoming violence and building peace. It also aims to influence and inform policymakers, civil society practitioners and activists in PNG and Australia, international organisations working on violence and peace, and to influence global scholarly debates.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in PNG who already have such deep knowledge of peace-building and effective strategies to intervene to prevent violence, as well as being able to build bridges between individuals and organisations working on similar issues in different parts of PNG and even internationally,” Professor Forsyth says.