University of Tasmania
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Returning to place : the return migration of young adults to Tasmania

posted on 2023-05-26, 07:00 authored by Easthope, H
Traditionally migration scholarship has been concerned with the question of why people migrate. This has lead many migration researchers to search for lists of causal factors understood to influence migration decisions. More recent migration research has come to recognize that to understand why people migrate, it is important to look beyond such lists and attempt to provide a more complex and nuanced account of the migration process. This thesis draws upon these more recent studies and begins with the premise that to begin to answer the question of why people migrate, one must first try to comprehend how people negotiate, experience and understand their migrations. Through a study of the return migration of young adults to the state of Tasmania in Australia, this thesis discusses the utility of the concepts of 'mobility' and 'place' for exploring the complexities of people's negotiations, experiences and understandings of migration. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with thirty young adults (aged between twenty and thirty-eight) who had left Tasmania and subsequently returned. The thesis speaks to discussions surrounding the emigration of young adults and concerns about 'brain drain' occurring in many regions in Australia as well as internationally. The choice of Tasmania as a case study for this research is highly appropriate, as concerns surrounding the out-migration of young people from the state have influenced the State's social, economic and political life since the early 1900s. By examining return migration, the focus is shifted away from discourses that bemoan the negative effects of the emigration of young adults, instead recognising that migration can also bring benefits to both young migrants themselves and to the places they move between. The research found that people's experiences of migration were intricately tied to their negotiations and understandings of places. Through a complex analysis of constructions of mobility, place and belonging, the thesis reveals that young Tasmanians retain deep emotional and social connections to Tasmania at all stages of the migration process. These connections are influenced by constructions of Tasmania as a place that is understood simultaneously as 'bounded and insular' and as 'networked'. The thesis concludes by pointing to the implications of both mobility and place construction for the politics and economies of the places migrants move between, as well as for the practical considerations and identity constructions of the migrants themselves, and reasserts the importance of these concepts for studies of migration.


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