Katharine Mckinnon


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Katharine is a human geographer whose work engages with community economies, gender, development and care. For the past 20 years she has worked with a broad range of communities in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, engaging in qualitative and participatory social research for community learning and development.


Katharine’s research is driven by a curiosity about how our human communities structure efforts to act upon the world, and, in particular, to transform it for the better. Efforts to better the world take place in many different contexts and the professionalisation of these efforts is well established in the fields of community development, social enterprise, agronomy, health and education. Her current research considers questions of: how to achieve gender equity in ways that suit the lives and livelihoods of people in their different places and communities; how to reshape enterprises and organisations around priorities of care and inclusivity; and how to put an ethics of care for people and environment at the heart of economies and livelihoods.


Katharine has published extensively on topics of community learning and development, and economies of care. Her most recent book, Birthing Work: The Collective Labour of Childbirth highlights the human and more-than-human interdependence that is at the foundation of family life and livelihood. Her work on community development practice in northern Thailand is published as a monograph in Development Professionals in Northern Thailand: Hope, Politics and Practice (2012). She has contributed to several key texts in her field, including The Handbook of Diverse Economies, Postdevelopment in Practice, Sage Handbook of Human Geography and the Blackwell A Companion to Social Geography. Her work has also been published in leading journals in the discipline, including the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Social and Cultural Geography, Area and Geoforum.

Research interests

Member of Climate Change Adaptation Resilience and Recovery Network

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Australian National University

Bachelor, Victoria University of Wellington

External positions

Member, Community Economies Research Network

2015 → …

Member, Community Economies Collective

2009 → …

Member, Association of American Geographers

2002 → …

Member, Institute of Australian Geographers

1999 → …


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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