Henrietta McNeill believes language is the key to unlocking the barriers faced by people in the Pacific who have been criminally deported.
The PhD candidate from the The Australian National University (ANU) has just won a prestigious 2021 Fulbright New Zealand award.
She’ll now have the opportunity to further unlock her research after being winning a full scholarship to study in the United States.
Through the New Zealand Fulbright Program, she will visit the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and the Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon as part of her doctoral research that began at ANU in 2020.
McNeill is based at the Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) in the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs and will expand her doctorate on the security effects of criminal deportations to the Pacific region.
She has worked widely across the Pacific region, with a particular interest in Polynesia. She has led work focusing on a range of topics from trade, transnational crime and labour mobility, and previously lived in Samoa and Tokelau.
McNeill is particularly interested in the risk posed by criminal deportations, and links to transnational crime. She also looks at how deportees are accepted back into society, the challenges they face and the effect on regional security.
“My research is about how the securitisation of identity plays out in the criminal deportation and reintegration process in the Pacific,” McNeill said.
“I look at criminal deportations from Australia and New Zealand and the US to Pacific states.”
McNeill says language provides a strong discourse to how a person who has been deported is reintegrated back into society.
“Who gets deported and why? What are the laws and discourses? Are returnees accepted back into society? Does it include more language learning while incarcerated?
“What I want is for my PhD to contribute to good policy making around reintegration approaches and what’s best for Pacific states.”
Director of Studies at DPA Professor Nicole Haley said Henrietta is an outstanding doctoral researcher and wished her all the very best.
“She is a reflection of the world-class calibre of emerging scholars here at DPA.
“We are grateful to the Fulbright Program for supporting mobility for scholars like Henrietta, enabling them to connect with research communities around the world,” Professor Haley said.
The 2021 Fulbright scholarships have also provided a gateway for a former student, Dr Pounamu Jade Aikman, from the School of Culture, History and Language in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.
Dr Aikman is currently based in Wellington and will continue his work at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he will be based in the History Department.
His project builds on his doctoral research which examined the nexus between Indigenous sovereignty and settler state violence in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
While at Harvard, Dr Aikman will work on a comparative study of Indigenous experiences of settler colonialism in Aotearoa and the United States.
“I’m excited to kōrero (have a conversation) and wānanga (assist the application of knowledge) with other Indigenous scholars working in their ancestral landscapes, in building whanaungatanga and collaborating with them on similar experiences of settler colonialism and Indigenous sovereignty,” Dr Aikman said.