To move and to resettle
: the elusive goals of precarious ‘non-citizens'

  • Daile Lynn Rung

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    In this age of globalisation, there are significant numbers of people moving across the borders of nation-states. However, there are many people whose attempts to move are not welcomed by nation-states or who are temporarily welcomed and then encouraged to leave if they do not meet certain selection criteria for ‘desirable migrants’. In this thesis I ask, what are people’s experiences as they move into different countries and how do policies and practices affect the everyday experiences of people who wish to move and to resettle permanently in Australia?

    This thesis is the result of an institutional ethnographic (IE) study conducted among a diverse group of refugees and migrants resettling in Sydney. The fieldwork involved two principle ethnographic techniques: participant observations with over 100 refugees, migrants, community workers, volunteers, and members of multicultural community groups, and in-depth conversations with 20 people who entered Australia as refugees or migrants. The ethnographic techniques were combined with document analysis that argues for an understanding of how it has come to be that increasing numbers of people in Australia and around the world are experiencing long-term precarious lives as ‘non-citizens’.

    I have drawn predominantly on the work of Dorothy Smith and her understandings of the ruling relations coordinating people’s everyday worlds. Smith’s conceptual insights including her notion of social organisation, social relations, ruling relations, institution, and work have been usefully applied to develop an understanding of how the lives of ‘non-citizens’ are embedded and shaped by textually mediated social relations, which subject people to highly unequal pathways for accessing mobility and achieving citizenship status in society.

    These IE insights have been combined with Thomas Nail’s recent political theory of the migrant, kinopolitics, to conceptualise how people’s movements through regimes of social motion coordinate them into doing deeply embodied kinds of labour, which I call ‘mobility-work’ and ‘resettlement-work’. I argue that the current ways that nation-states like Australia approach human mobility and the methods used to determine if a person has a ‘legitimate’ right to be within the territorial space of the nation-state and to be counted as a member (that is, a citizen) in society, sits in deep tension with the ideals of universal human rights and democratic principles.
    Date of AwardSep 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBrian Devlin (Supervisor)

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