Maria Florencia Amigo



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The overarching question that guides my research is: How can cultural and historically specific understandings and practices around childhood/youth, education, and work can be leveraged to inform community development and social inclusion? This question brings together the diverse but somewhat connected research projects I have engaged in, by cementing them around the intersection of childhood/youth, work and education. As an anthropologist I am interested in cross-cultural and changing conceptions of these concepts, and how they are understood in diverse and dynamic contexts: international, local and multicultural. The ultimate aim of my research is to inform policy and practice for positive societal transformation.



I am a social anthropologist. After completing my undergraduate studies in my home country at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, thanks to an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) awarded by the Australian government, I came to Australia to pursue doctoral studies. Hosted by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, my dissertation “Chasing Money: Children’s work in rural Lombok” explores the paid and unpaid labour of young children in a poor rural area of Indonesia, which I completed in 2005. In 2008 I was appointed a post-doctoral fellow at the former Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University, to study the formal and non-formal educational implications for children migrating with their families to Australia. This project, titled “A double transition: migrant children starting school in Australia” was funded by the former Department of Education and Workplace Relations and sparked my interest in multicultural Australia. In 2012 I was appointed Associate Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, and while teaching an experiential learning PACE unit “Internships in Social Research”, I became interested in the application of the social sciences, and on the role of higher education institutions and external organisations in supporting experiential learning opportunities for students.  With colleagues in the Department of Sociology, I conducted research on the connections between higher education and employability, and the changing roles and identities of students and academics engaged in work-integrated learning. Since 2017 I am the academic director of PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) in the Faculty of Arts. This role has allowed me to further advocate for the university's community engagement, to offer quality experiential learning opportunities to students, and for research in collaboration with partner organisations. Recently, I have worked on a number of projects investigating university volunteers’ work in international development settings, children’s marriage in Nepal, and the ever-close relationship between higher education and employability, as it relates to young people.


Research Interests

-          Cross-cultural notions of childhood

-          Children’s education, work, migration and marriage in poor contexts

-          Diasporas and volunteering for development in multicultural Australia

-          Higher education, employability and future of work



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