Postgraduate Projects

Social Transformation and International Migration in Korea: A Human Rights Movement Perspective

Chulhyo Kim

The Republic of Korea has experienced a rapid social transformation for the last 100 years from a colony of a neighbouring power, devastation and poverty after Korean War and military dictatorship to become a global leader in industry and democracy. Korea’s transition in migration is also dramatic. From a sending country of miners, nurses and manual workers to Europe and Gulf oil economies until the 1980s, Korea has become one of the major receiving countries of migrant workers and foreign brides in the region.

Cultural and ethnic homogeneity has been the basis of government policy on culture, education, welfare and most every part of society right up to the present. However, the rapid increase in migrant population during the last 10 years led the Korean Government to declare ‘Korea has become a multiethnic and multicultural society’. The Government recognised the need for relevant policy measures. Korean society is still in the midst of a cultural and social transition which is driven by migration.

This research analyses social transformation and international migration in Korea between 1980-2010. It will particularly examine how migration influenced the transformation of the society, and the role of social movements in these changes.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr. Kiran Grewal

Transnational Migrant Networks: Mobilisation of Alevism from Australia and Germany

Derya Ozkul

This thesis explores transnational Alevi networks from Germany and Australia to Turkey. The motivating questions are: 1) In which mechanisms do the migratory processes change the manner in which Alevism is experienced in private, as well as practiced and presented in public? 2) To what extent do the newly emerging forms of Alevism contribute to the political-institutional struggles in Turkey? Departing from these questions, the thesis displays a comparative study of the two countries of destination with very different traditions and institutional frameworks. It investigates what role distinct migratory processes have had for non-orthodox religious groups in providing conditions for transnational struggles. Although transnational research has revealed extensive empirical findings, it still lacks developed comparative studies exploring the impact of state policies and of distance to the homeland. The hypotheses of this research are 1) the more distant a diaspora is located to the homeland, the less interested it is in the homeland issues. 2) The state policies of immigration have a crucial role for migrant organisations’ structure and priorities.

The initial results show that the distance does not play a role in debilitating a diaspora’s interests in the homeland. However, the very different traditions and institutional frameworks of Germany and Australia play an important role. In Germany Alevi organisations have transformed from social-aid to religious organisations due to the privileges they received. Even if the founders of the movement were predominantly leftist activists, the change in the organisational structure diverged the movement’s priorities. In Australia, the Alevi organisations comply with the institutional frameworks (i.e. they privilege cultural aspects that are valorised by the Australian multi-cultural policies), yet the organisational culture still depends on the social groups that first established them. Because the Australian state did not privilege any particular organisational structure, the agency of migrants has been greater. On the other hand, however distinct the two case studies are, they show very crucial similarities. This reveals that the forces by ‘transnationalism from above’ and the growing importance of religion at the global level have been strong enough to override the differences of immigration policies and the distance to the homeland.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Hon. Ass. Prof. Christine Inglis

Multiculturalism in an Age of Transient Migration

Elsa Koleth

Multiculturalism was one of the key concepts and policy frameworks introduced to respond to the changes wrought in Australian society as a result of mass immigration to Australia following the Second World War. However, in the decades since the introduction of multiculturalism in Australia, the nature of migration to Australia and the global context of international migratory flows have changed significantly.

This project investigates the impact of temporary migration, particularly through an examination of the experiences of Indian migrants to Australia, on Australian multiculturalism. It explores the way in which the presence of transient migrant subjects in a multicultural polity challenges the parameters of multiculturalism and questions its potential as a discourse to respond to societal transformation. To provide a broader comparative perspective on the challenges facing Australia, Australian multiculturalism will be compared with developments in discourse and policy on multiculturalism in in Canada, specifically in the context of increases in temporary migration to Canada.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr Laura Beth Bugg

Transforming Rural Mexico - Indigenous Migration to the United States

Magdalena Arias Cubas

Over the last decades, Indigenous communities in southern Mexico have experienced significant transformations relating to the development of migration flows to the United States. Such transformations have affected to varying degrees the wellbeing of Indigenous migrants, their relatives and their communities.

In this context, this project explores the link between social transformation and international migration by analysing the impact of these interconnected processes on the well-being of Indigenous migrants and their relatives, in communities of both origin and destination. Drawing from theorists such as Amartya Sen and Sabine Alkire, the conceptual framework of this thesis will identify and link key dimensions of change on the well-being of Indigenous migrants and their relatives at the communities of origin and destination following their migratory experience.

The central case study concerns the ‘Mixteco’ or ‘Ñuu Savi’, who have migrated primarily as agricultural labourers to the west coast of the United States. This study uses a mixed-methods approach. Research is being carried out at the state and local level, using statistical and secondary sources. Primary research is also being conducted in the selected locations in Oaxaca and California. By doing so, this project will discern and present a case study of social transformation and migration that focuses on the impact of such processes on the well-being of Indigenous migrants. This will generate new knowledge and enhance our understanding of the impact and importance of societal change and migration on minority groups that have been overlooked in the literature, thus recognising the particularity of their experience and challenges associated with it.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr. Tim Anderson

Forms of Socio-spatial Belonging for Migrants in Urban Australia

Rebecca Williamson

Migration entails not only the movement of people and often their social worlds; it also involves the transformation of meanings of social and political space. This research examines processes of social transformation and international migration in relation to migrants groups and social space in urban Australia.

In Australia, migration is not only integral to the history and demography of the nation, but remains central in ongoing and emotive discourses around identity, belonging and territory. However, little attention has been paid to the ways in which migration transforms cities at an everyday, micro-social level. The research involves a place-based study of the interactions between recent migrants and the built environment in a highly diverse suburban locality in south-western Sydney, Australia. It focuses in particular on migrants’ place-making practices and their role in the transformation of local public space. The thesis examines how the everyday production of space is mediated by a range of actors and discourses across multiple scales, and the extent to which it shapes, or is shaped by, migrants’ urban citizenship claims.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr. Robbie Peters