Labouring to resettle: Exploring the everyday 'resettlement-work' and 'resettlement-learning' of forced migrants in Sydney, Australia

Daile Lynn Fuller

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    When considering the magnitude of forced migration on a global scale, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that as of 2013 there were 51.2 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. This represents the highest level of people forcibly displaced since the aftermath of World War II. Bearing in mind the contemporary migratory context characterised by mounting worldwide incidents of migration and displacement due to wars, persecution, violence, human rights violations, environmental catastrophes, and economic upheavals, perhaps now more than ever there is a greater need to promote successful resettlement among forced migrants. An important way of supporting forced migrants in a new society lies in building knowledge about the everyday ways working and learning occurs in and though the process of resettlement.

    This paper focuses on the work and learning experiences of resettling forced migrants in Sydney, Australia. In their own words forced migrants describe their everyday resettlement activities taking up their time and effort as they work to rebuild their lives in Australia. It is argued that the everyday resettlement activities of forced migrants constitute unique and often unrecognised forms of work and learning. Furthermore, this paper will establish that the work and learning actualities of resettling forced migrants, must be acknowledged and supported in order to promote successful resettlement and social cohesion in increasingly multicultural settler societies such as Australia.

    Using an institutional ethnographic lens (Smith, 1999, 2003, 2005a, 2006) this paper explores how forced migrants’ everyday resettlement actualities catch them up in deeply embodied forms of work and learning. These hitherto unrecognised forms of work and learning are referred to as ‘resettlement-work’ and ‘resettlement-learning’ to capture the ways in which forced migrants act as both ‘resettlement-workers’ and ‘resettlement-learners’. Viewing forced migrants as resettlement-workers and resettlement-learners requires an ontological shift to apprehend how they are actively involved in embodied, conceptual, labouring, historical and generational acts of migration and resettlement. As forced migrants describe their localised and situated everyday resettlement activities their stories offer insights into how they actively work and learn to resettle by strategically navigating through the ‘institutional regime of migration and resettlement’.

    The inquiry relies upon narrative accounts to reveal the resettlement actualities of forced migrants who are understood to be experts of their social reality because they possess insights that can only be obtained through direct and intimate experiences with migration and resettlement. Consequently, it is a methodological imperative to become familiar with the experienced actualities of forced migrants through a theorised exploration of their everyday resettlement actualities. By opening discursive spaces in research for forced migrants to speak about their embodied actualities with resettlement, this paper endeavours to draw upon their expertise and to centre their voices in the construction of knowledge about resettlement-work and resettlement-learning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication9th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning, Singapore
    Place of Publicationunknown
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventInternational Conference on Researching Work and Learning (RWL 2015 9th) - Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
    Duration: 9 Dec 201511 Dec 2015
    Conference number: 2015 (9th)


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Researching Work and Learning (RWL 2015 9th)
    Abbreviated titleRWL


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