Displacement and Identity: Studies of Immigrants Negotiating Belonging and Home in Australia

These studies will collect, analyse and re-present life stories of immigrants in Australia. This will contribute to our understanding of how people and groups recreate identities and communities in the diaspora. In particular it will focus on how ideologies of ‘race’ and ‘whiteness’ are deconstructed and/or reproduced, and will clarify the new ways people combine material and symbolic resources to construct social identities. Life story interviews will be combined with arts inquiry, culminating in diverse representations of migrant experiences, and forming part of an archive of migrant histories in Australia.

South Africans Negotiating Belonging and Home in Australia: A Multiple Method Case Study
Exploring black and white South African participants’ experiences of migration to Australia and its implications for identity disruption,construction and belonging. With a focus on meanings conveyed through migration stories, we thematically analysed semi-structured interview data gathered from nine participants. We generated three themes,including the motivations for migration, the experience of leaving and losing home, and the personal and political challenges of home making. Home and its associations with textured depictions of belonging and loss was central to the meanings participants gave to the impacts of displacement. Settling involved the ongoing negotiation of identity in relation to both South Africa and Australia. The findings are discussed with reference to the role of nostalgia and race in negotiating belonging and identity.

Sonn, C., Ivey, G., Baker, A., & Meyer, K. (2015). Post-Apartheid South African immigrants in Australia: Negotiating displacement, identity and belonging. Qualitative Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/qup0000039

See also the Voices of Displacement project which uses sound portraits to share stories about displacement, identity and belonging.

Completed student projects:

Rama Agung Igusti (2017). “I’m forming a new identity because there is no two of me”: Narratives of identity from the
African Diaspora in Melbourne, Australia.

Roshani Jayawardana (2018). The Experiences of Second-Generation Australians: A Qualitative Study of Ethnic Identity and Belonging

Enrico Mori (2018). The Cross-cultural Experience. A Qualitative Study on International Students in Melbourne.

Upcoming Projects: