Introducing NGN member, Henrietta McNeill

Each month MMIC profiles a member of our Next Generation Network to showcase the incredible research being undertaken by our network of postgraduate and early career researchers. This month we sat down with Henrietta McNeill (PhD Candidate, Australian National University) to discuss her PhD research and her recent success as a recipient of a Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Award.

What is your research about?

My research looks at the securitisation of migration in relation to criminal deportations – not just looking at how and why people are deported, but also how they are re-securitised on their return to their state of citizenship. I primarily look at deportations to the Pacific Islands.

What led to your interest in this topic?

I’m a Kiwi so there’s always that deportation interest! I’ve lived on and off in the Pacific Islands (Samoa and Tokelau) since I was a kid and have an affinity and love for the region. Immediately prior to beginning my PhD, I was working for the NZ government running a capacity-building programme combatting immigration-related transnational crime in the Pacific region and saw a disconnect between states’ policies to deport, and their mission to curb crime in the Pacific region. It made me want to dive really deeply into this topic, and what better deep dive is there than a PhD?

Can you tell us a little about your Fulbright scholarship?

I was grateful to be awarded a Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Award as a Visiting Student Researcher. This allows me to visit different universities in the US, and work with scholars on my PhD topic. I will spend one month with Professor Juliet Stumpf, whose seminal work coined ‘crimmigration’ at the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, and then spend four months in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA, before spending three months at the Centre for Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawai’i – Mānoa. I encourage all students (and scholars) to seek out the Fulbright commission in their state of citizenship as the terms for each state are set differently – no matter what your programme looks like though, you are welcomed into the Fulbright family with open arms.

What books/podcasts/movies/articles are currently inspiring you?

On the flight to the US I read Abbas Nazari’s After the Tampa – as a child he was on the boat that was picked up by the Tampa, and he tells his story of what occurred; what he didn’t know politically at the time; being given refugee status in New Zealand; and how it prompted his own Fulbright journey. Not only was it relevant to my plane ride but it really set the scene for what was going on in one of Australian migration policy’s critical moments. Podcast-wise, I’m hanging out for a second season of Gordon Peake’s Memorandum of Understanding, and Dahlia Simangan’s Scholars Unbound is a must-listen for all PhD students.

Outside academia, what are your interests?

I would usually say travel here, but COVID-19 has changed what that means a little. I was lucky to move to Australia a week before the borders closed in 2020, so I have spent the last two years exploring Australia – the amazing land-based wildlife around Canberra, and the beautiful aquatic-life diving up in Queensland have been highlights. It’s been a great opportunity to explore a new country in detail. Other than travel, I enjoy walking and being outdoors, a good book, and a glass of wine.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Hopefully with a good book and a glass of wine! I don’t know exactly where I will be in 5 years’ time, but I will say yes to every interesting opportunity along the way, and I know that will take me somewhere unexpected and wonderful.

Interested in knowing more about Henrietta’s research? You can connect with Henrietta on Twitter or via email.