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Migrants@Work Research Group

Staggered Pathways: The Impact of New Migrant Mobilities on Career and Life Transitions

Shanthi Robertson, Institute for Culture and Society; Western Sydney University

26th Oct 2017  12:00 pm - 01:00 pm Rm 4150, Abercrombie Building (H70)

Over the last 20 years, there have been significant increases to temporary migration programs in Australia. Policies during this time have allowed significant ‘churn’ across temporary visa categories, and varied transition pathways from temporary to permanent visas. These policies, along with migrants’ own agencies, have reconfigured migrant mobilities to Australia, in particular mobilities from Asia. Mobilities have become complex and circular, encompassing varied stages and durations and uncertain futures. ‘Staggered pathways’ across different temporary visas and from temporariness to potential permanence structure migrants’ time horizons as well as their spatial locations within particular regions and labour markets.  Such processes reconfigure worker subjectivities, career pathways and life transitions, as temporary migrants try to map their own desires and goals alongside shifting state criteria for migrant desirability, the labour market constraints of ‘being temporary’, and the specific conditions of different visas and transitions across visas. In this paper I provide some analysis from current work on the social impacts of the 'staggered pathways' of Asian temporary migrants to Australia, focusing on migrants who have moved across different visa categories over time. I utilize data from in-depth interviews with 42 migrants from six source countries to investigate how migration governance intersects with, disrupts and transforms individual career trajectories, life transitions and social relationships.

Bio: Shanthi Robertson is a sociologist and Senior Research Fellow in migration studies and globalization at the Institute of Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Shanthi’s research interests centre on migration, transnationalism, citizenship, youth and urban space, particularly the social, cultural and political consequences of contemporary modes of migration governance in the Asia-Pacific. She is currently completing an ARC DECRA early career research fellowship on temporality, mobility and young Asian temporary migrants to Australia and commencing a five-year collaborative ARC Discovery on the economic, social and civic outcomes of transnational youth mobility for young people moving into and out of Australia for work, leisure and study.