Postgraduate Projects

Neo-liberalism, temporary labour migration and social movement: transformations of South Korean society

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

Transformation of Diasporas from a Labour Movement towards a Transnational Religious Movement: The Alevi Diaspora in Germany and Australia (submitted for examination)

Derya Özkul

This is a study about how destination countries affect the community formation and development of Alevis - a particular group from Turkey. By incorporating diaspora mobilisation literature with social movement theories, this thesis specifically explores the question: ‘How did the Alevi diaspora emerge and change over time in different contexts?’. It examines the cases of Germany and Australia, two countries with very different historical traditions towards migrants, from a multi-scalar perspective that considers the shifting transnational and national ‘political opportunity structures’. It focuses on the period between the 1960s (when Turkey signed its first bilateral migration agreements) and 2013. The fieldwork for this study was carried out in both countries between 2012 and 2013, and the data collection methods were policy analysis, archival research, participant observation and semi-structured in-depth interviews with 70 Alevi participants.

The results show that Alevis who were initially part of the labour movement in the 1960s and 1970s in both Germany and Australia started organising around a newly emerging secular cultural identity movement in the 1980s and 1990s, and around an institutionalised religious/faith-based movement in the 2000s. In Germany, activists ultimately managed to obtain public recognition of Alevism from the German state as a unique religion separate from Islam. In Australia, despite the fact that religious institutions were not promoted in the same way, a similar pattern evolved at the federation level. Activists in both places sought to manage the dispersed Alevi population under new and integrative models (such as national federations, supra-national institutions and global initiatives) and positioned Alevism largely as a unique faith system in its own right.

Overall, these findings suggest that even if national ‘political opportunity structures’ develop in various ways in different countries, a diaspora movement can follow a largely similar path over time due to overarching transnational forces (such as, in this case, the construction of Muslims as a threat to national security in both Germany and Australia and the rise of Islamist politics in Turkey). In Australia, however, the two major organisations disagreed about the definition of Alevism. While the main organisation in Melbourne claimed Alevism as a unique faith system, its counterpart in Sydney sustained the view that Alevism was the true essence of Islam. Hence the case study in Australia suggests that, despite working in the same national political opportunity structures, local-level movements may follow very different routes. Moreover, in both countries, ‘framing contests’ among activists and community members resulted from personal conflicts and differences in political and geographical background, which further illustrates the complexities inherent in a social movement.

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

‘Temporary migration and the new politics of belonging in the multicultural settler state’

Elsa Koleth

Permanent migrant settlement was central to Australian nation-building in the twentieth century. However, in the twenty-first century temporary migration has rapidly become a defining feature of Australia’s immigration system. My thesis examines the way in which temporary migration is unsettling conceptions of belonging based on multicultural citizenship in the settler colonial state and serving as a technology of racial biopolitics in the management of new stranger subjects in the multicultural polity. It utilises a comparative case study of temporary migration in Canada to conceptualise the role of temporary migration and multiculturalism in making and re-making the borders of the nation. Through an empirical case study of Indian migrants in Australia the thesis examines how temporary migration is shaping the experiences of migrants, and how migrants navigate through the global and national structures of governmentality they encounter to construct hopeful futures.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr Sonja van Wichelen

Transforming Rural Mexico - Indigenous Migration to the United States

Magdalena Arias Cubas

This project is concerned with theories of international migration, human development and social transformation. Its main objectives of are (i) to embed the study of international migration within broader analysis of economic, political and social transformations that occur at multi-level spaces; while(ii) advancing a human-centred and grounded understanding of the relationship between migration and development that identifies key dimensions of change on well-being relating to migration. Theoretically, this project draws from Polanyi’s (1944) analysis of the great transformation to uncover the dynamics underpinning social transformation in a neoliberal era. Similarly, this project draws from Sen’s (1999) capabilities approach to construct a conceptual framework for identifying and linking key dimensions of change on the well-being of Indigenous migrants and their relatives.

While this project is theoretically driven, it empirically explores the history and experiences of Mixteco migrants (from the state of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico) who work in the agricultural fields of California. This project thus explores the link between social transformation and international migration by analysing the impact of these interconnected processes on the well-being of Mixteco migrants and their relatives in communities of both origin and destination. This project uses a mixed- methods approach. Primary research was conducted in selected communities. This included: interviews and focus groups with migrants and migrants’ relatives; interviews with key informants; participant observation at public locations and events; participatory photography with a selection of participants; and the dissemination of findings with the community and partner organisation. In addition, research is being carried out at the national and municipal level, using statistical and secondary sources. This project will be completed in late 2016.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Dr. Tim Anderson

Mundane Multiculture: Belonging as Spatial Practice in Suburban Sydney (Completed)

Rebecca Williamson

Global cities are being reconfigured through multiple transformations. Cities are places of increasing heterogeneity as a result of heightened flows of human mobility, setting the stage for negotiations of strangerhood and intercultural encounter. They are epicentres for new registers of belonging, allegiance and citizenship arising in the context of these broader transitions. Drawing on relational theories of the city and critical readings of urban diversity, this thesis interrogates how multi-ethnic neighbourhoods shape experiences of belonging for migrant inhabitants. It argues that pluralist policies largely attempt to coordinate and contain urban diversity, often leaving yawning fissures between politicised rhetoric and the lived socio-materialities of the city. These processes are particularly evident in the city of Sydney, the preeminent global city in Australia, a ‘nation of immigration’.

This study and its analysis offers an alternative to conventional migration studies that privilege the ethnic lens, by applying a place-based approach and a Lefebvrian frame of analysis to residents’ place making practices in a highly diverse, transitional suburb. The research uses urban ethnographic methods, including observation and interviews with migrant residents and local ‘space managers’, to analyse the interactional and socio-spatial orders of three suburban public spaces. Drawing on this rich empirical data, the study not only argues that local space is produced at the intersection of spatial practices, regimes of urban governance, and multicultural discourses, but that it is fundamental to understanding migrants’ subjective experience of ‘being at home’ in both local and national space. This approach provides critical insight into the uneven integration of arrivals into collective urban culture, as well as possibilities for generating urban civilities in a unique study of Campsie, New South Wales. If new processes of exclusion are regulating human flows at sovereign borders, it is critically important to also understand how spatial marginalisation unfolds in the intimate spaces of the increasingly diverse and mobile city.

Prof. Stephen Castles
Laura Beth Bugg
Dr. Robbie Peters