Seminar at the University of Sydney

Social Transformation and International Migration Network
School of Social and Political Sciences
You are cordially invited to attend a Seminar hosted by the Social Transformation and International Migration Network.
Hyun Mee Kim
Yonsei University
Performers of ‘Korean-ness’?: 
The Process of ‘FamilyMaking’ by Vietnamese Women Marriage Migrants in South Korea
Tuesday 3 September 2013
RC Mills Bldg, Room 148
The University of Sydney
No RSVP required.
The South Korean state has since the 1990s played a pivotal role in regulating particular types of migration – especially ‘marriage migration’ – as a means of alleviating the crises of declining birth rates and an aging population, in the hope of restoring balance to the uneven male-to-female ratio in the marriage market. The gender/class/ethnic ideology in state migration policy imagines foreign women as labor power that replaces reproductive labor, and succumbs them under the frame of forming, maintaining, and reproducing the ‘Korean family,’ which is often that of the lower class in both urban and rural areas. Foreign women, especially those from Southeast Asia, have generated a wide range of discourses on multi-cultural society.
My presentation deals with the complex process of ‘a family-making’ among Vietnamese migrant women in South Korea that involves the government’s migration policy, migration-inducing practices of Korean-local commercial brokers and ongoing negotiations among married couples. By looking at migration and transnational connections a Vietnamese woman migrant often undergoes as an emerging agent of family-making in contemporary Korea, this presentation examines the nexuses of neoliberal economic order, crisis of social reproduction both in sending and receiving countries, and migration of reproduction in Asian countries.
Hyun Mee Kim is Professor of the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Graduate Program in Culture and Gender Studies, Yonsei University, South Korea. Her research interests include gender and migration, critical cultural theories; city and human ecology; globalization and labor. She has written articles on diverse migrants coming to South Korea including marriage migrants, asylum seekers and economic migrants. She is the author of Cultural Translation in a Global Era (2005) and has also co-edited Intimate Enemy: How Neoliberalism has become our everyday lives(2010), and We are all people with differences: Towards multiculturalism for co-existence(2013). She was a Committee Member for the Division of Human Rights for Foreigners, National Human Rights Commission of Korea(2008-2010) and is a member of the Forum on Human Rights for Migrant Women in South Korea.
For more information on Social Transformation and International Migration Network, please go to:

Australian mainland to be excised from migration zone

The Australian Parliament has today passed legislation to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone. The Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012 was introduced into the Australian Parliament by the Gillard Government on 31 October 2012, following a recommendation of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers. The provisions contained in the new legislation extend the excision provisions introduced by the Howard Government in 2001 to enable the offshore processing of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat.

The new provisions will ensure that asylum seekers who enter Australia by sea, including those who reach the mainland, as ‘unauthorised maritime arrivals’ will be unable to apply for a protection visa, unless allowed to do so by the Immigration Minister, and that such persons will be liable to be sent to regional processing countries offshore to have their claims for asylum processed.

For background information on the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrivals and Other Measures) Bill 2012, see the relevant Bills Digest published by the Australian Parliamentary Library.

The following story from ABC News reports on the passage of the legislation.

Parliament excises mainland from migration zone

By Karen Barlow and staff

The entire Australian mainland has been excised from the migration zone in a bid to deter the arrival of asylum seekers.

Up until now, asylum seekers who reached the mainland by boat could not be sent offshore to Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island for immigration processing.

The change strips away any legal advantage for asylum seekers who reach the mainland.

The bill was supported by the Opposition, which says it is almost identical to legislation put forward by the Howard government in 2006, but the Greens predict the next generation of Australian politicians will be apologising for it.

Asylum applications by country 2012



United States 83,430
Sweden 43,890
United Kingdom 27,410
Switzerland 25,950
Australia 15,790
Italy 15,710
New Zealand 320

Table shows selected countries, not a top list.
Source: UNHCR

The idea was one of 25 recommendations put forward by the expert panel on asylum seekers and introduced to the Parliament by the Government last year.

As a matter of urgency, the Government re-ordered today’s day in the Senate to ensure the bill passed.

Coalition Senator Michaelia Cash says Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor paid a special visit to the Opposition to get the measure through the Parliament.

“The Government and the Minister O’Connor came to the Coalition quite literally on bended knee today and begged us, begged us to facilitate the passage of this legislation, which again for the record, we agreed we would do,” she said.

The Government, which is dealing with an increasing number of boats arrivals, says it is a deterrence measure.

But the Greens and refugee groups say it strips asylum seekers of legal rights.

Greens amendments to allow for Human Rights Commission inspections, media access, and the removal of children from the Manus Island centre, all failed to pass.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the bill will do nothing to stop people arriving by boat.

“It is going to cost people’s lives and damage people who are already suffering from such harm, this is a bad piece of legislation, an immoral piece of legislation,” she said.

“[It is] not looking at why people are seeking asylum in the first place what is driving them to leave their countries. Deterrence has not and will not work.”

Greens leader Christine Milne says after apologies to the Indigenous children of the Stolen Generation and the children of forced adoptions, the Government should be warned.

“In 10, 15, 20 years when there is a national apology to the children detained indefinitely in detention for the sole, supposed crime of seeking a better life in our country because they are running away for persecution with their families, not one of you will be able to stand up and say “Oh we didn’t, oh, it was the culture of the period’,” she said.

Amnesty International also says it is appalled by the decision.

“Until today, the Government’s policy of removing asylum seekers from the mainland and locking them up offshore was against Australian law,” Amnesty refugee campaigner Graeme McGregor said.

“Now the Government has changed the law to suit their policies. This doesn’t change the fact that this is an inhumane, ineffective and expensive policy that ignores Australia’s responsibilities to people who need our protection.”

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs says it discriminates against vulnerable people and penalises them for the way they arrive in Australia.

She warns transferring asylum seekers to a third country may breach their human rights.

Policy backflip

It is an about face for the Labor Party, which rejected the Howard government’s similar legislation in 2006.

At the time, Labor MP Chris Bowen described the proposal to excise the mainland as “a stain on our national character”.

But after introducing the bill last October, Mr Bowen, who was then the immigration minister, said he had changed his position.

“I’ve changed the Labor Party’s position and I changed my mind, based on the evidence, based on the recommendations of the Houston panel, and based on the evidence that this will save lives,” Mr Bowen said at the time.

Several boats have arrived on the Australian mainland this year, including the embarrassing case of the New Zealand-bound boat of Sri Lankan nationals which arrived in the West Australian port of Geraldton.

Labor Senator Matt Thistlethwaite says laws have to change to save lives, citing the Christmas Island tragedy in December 2010.

“Fifty innocent women and children drowned in shocking circumstances before the eyes of this nation on the rocks at Christmas Island,” he said.

“We simply cannot allow, as a nation with a heart, those circumstances to continue.”

 Boat arrivals by year graphINFOGRAPHIC: A Parliamentary Library background note graph shows the number of asylum seeker boat arrivals in Australia since 1976. (Department of Parliamentary Services)

The Australian Government just announced the Budget for 2013-14

The Australian Government just announced the Budget for 2013-14 and with it migration policy planning levels. As usual they put out two policy releases on migration planning for the coming financial year:
Another release on additional budget measures in relation to “irregular maritime arrivals” to combat people smuggling:
Also, Budget Paper 2 provides details of expense measures in the Immigration and Citizenship portfolio:
[This is useful to get a sense of where government funding will be directed in the portfolio, across a range of areas such as settlement support and service delivery and other policy implementation measures.]

Call for papers — Multiculturalism and “Asia” International workshop

Call for papers — Multiculturalism and “Asia” International workshop
Monash Asia Institute in conjunction with the School of Political & Social Inquiry Monash University
21-22 Nov 2013

Monash Asia Institute together with the School of Political and Social Inquiry will host
an international workshop of ‘Multiculturalism and “Asia”’ at Monash University,
Caulfield campus in Melbourne on 21 and 22 November 2013.

The workshop has two key purposes. One is to broaden and reconsider the studies of
multiculturalism and multicultural questions, which have been developed mostly in
Western contexts by examining Asian experiences. While we have witnessed the
decline or demise of multiculturalism in many Western countries in the last decade, the
discussion of multiculturalism has been capturing more attention in Asian (especially
East Asian) countries. It is thus significant for anyone concerned with multiculturalism
to make a serious investigation into this emerging phenomenon.

By “Asian” experiences, we do not just mean those of Asian countries. We will also
examine the experiences of migrants/diasporas of Asian backgrounds in Asian regions
including Australia. This is related to the other purpose of the workshop, that is, to
reconsider multicultural issues beyond the hitherto dominant framework of the
nation-state. Transnational connections and affiliations fostered by Asian
migrants/diasporas will be examined in terms of their implications for multicultural
questions in the local context. We will also consider how shifting international relations
of “home” and host countries affects their sense of belonging and membership in the
host countries, as well as the interplay between transnational and local/city affiliations.
Confirmed speakers include: Ien Ang (University of Western Sydney), Kim Hyun Mee
(Yonsei University), Hsiao-Chuan Hsia (Shih Hsin University), Yuko Kawai (Rikkyo
Univeristy), Fran Martin (Melbourne University).

We are inviting proposals for paper presentations on the following issues, though
proposals that are in other ways relevant to the two key themes will also be considered.

I. Multiculturalism in Asia (with some emphasis on East Asia):
o National/local policy and media representation/discourse of
o Recognition of cultural differences, especially “Asians” and “mixed
o Everyday multiculturalism and mundane negotiation with cultural
o Transnational alliance to critically engage with multicultural questions

II. Asian diasporas and de-nationalized understanding of multicultural questions
o Rooted transnationalism & intertwined association with “here” & “there”
o Sense of multiple belonging & membership and its implication for local
multicultural questions
o Migrants’/diasporas’ diverse access to media communication and diverse
modes of national identification
o Asian migrants/diasporas and the rise of their “home” culture
o Asian Australians, generational shifts and Australia’s “Asian literacy”

The workshop is part of a larger research project of the Institute. It aims to be
discussion-oriented and all speakers will give a concise talk of the main points for 15
minutes. Speakers are not expected to present complete papers but to raise key
theoretical questions with related empirical examination.
Please send your paper proposals (less than 300 words) with your affiliation details and
e-mail address no later than 30 June to:
Please clearly put “Paper proposal for Multiculturalism and Asia” in the subject line.
Acceptance of proposal will be notified around the end of July.
Please kindly be advised that we will not be able to offer financial support for
participants’ travel costs. There will be no registration fees for the workshop.
You can find more details of the workshop and the venue at the webpage of Monash
Asia Institute:
We look very much forward to receiving your proposals!
Best regards,
Koich Iwabuchi & Anita Harris
(Conveners, Monash University, Australia)

When the personal becomes political: a call to action on racism

When the personal becomes political: a call to action on racism

Over the past year Australians have seen a litany of racial tirades on public transport captured on camera and brought to wider attention through media coverage. Faced with documented evidence of the persistence of racism in everyday public settings, recently, PhD students and academics in the Department of Sociology at the University of Sydney have engaged in discussions about the ways in which we as sociologists can respond to the issue of racism.

Our discussions revealed the challenges involved in turning our knowledge of an inherently complex phenomenon like racism into efficacious personal, institutional and societal action in response to it.

Participation in this institutional exercise served as a reminder that in the midst of the alienation and fatigue that often underlies intellectual labour concerning social injustices, as feminists contend, it is at the personal level that social realities are rendered most deeply political. We are intellectually aware of issues of racism through much of our work in migration. However, it was when a close friend and colleague of ours became the subject of a recently reported public racial attack that we were galvanized to address it more publicly. In writing a response to what occurred to our friend we spoke not merely from our intellectual interest in a contemporary social phenomenon, but more importantly from our own experiences of the ways in which racism and racialization shape our lives in Australia.

Below is the opinion piece we wrote in early April.   

Racism: it’s more than what we say

Following the Easter long weekend we were rudely confronted with video footage of a man launching a tirade of racial abuse on a public bus in Sydney. We were horrified to find that his incoherent vitriol about “disgusting Japanese pigs” was directed at a friend and fellow PhD student at The University of Sydney – who is not Japanese at all – but rather of Korean descent. In the past few months we have seen several media reports of racial abuse on public transport, and we are, sadly, becoming increasingly unsurprised.

As scholars researching the impact of international migration in changing societies we are well aware of the complexities of racism in a society like Australia that has been built on immigration. Whether Australian citizens or international students, we, the authors of this article, are all migrants to this country who share the experience of racial abuse or discrimination either personally or through the experiences of our parents.

We know that for people like our friend this particular instance of abuse was not an isolated incident. He and other friends of ours – some international students, some long-term residents of Australia, and some who were born in Australia – have experienced racism on many more occasions without their experiences becoming public knowledge. This has included racial abuse hurled at them as they walked down the street or waited at a traffic light, as well as less public examples of discriminatory treatment in workplaces, on campus, or in shops. Often such treatment stems from perceptions that if you do not look white you are merely a visitor and must not belong in Australia. Contrary to initial reports, ‘Mr Kim’ is not an “Asian tourist”. He is an international student who has been living in Australia with his family for three years while completing his doctoral study.

In this instance, our friend felt that the perpetrator of the racial abuse may have been an “unstable, marginalised or disadvantaged” man. This incident was a reminder that some of the people involved in such public outbursts may be facing some form of disadvantage in their own life, perhaps to do with lack of education, or their financial, mental or physical health, perhaps exacerbated by substance abuse. Members of society who are themselves disadvantaged – no doubt drawing on the words of political leaders – may find in migrants an easy scapegoat for society’s broader ills.

It is easy to pillory one individual who happened to be caught on camera and condemn his actions as an outrage. However, such incidents should prompt deeper reflection on the ways in which silence is central to the practice of racism in Australia – whether it is the silence of a bus driver, or commuters, or anyone who witnesses derogatory comments about different racial, ethnic, or cultural groups in the course of everyday life and allows them to pass unchallenged.

We know that the most insidious forms of racism are not shouted out in public, but are bred in more private spaces, and are buttressed by broader structures related to education, the media, workplace cultures, and government policies. These broader institutional structures can embolden perpetrators of racism to make others feel inferior based on their background.

For most people racism takes more subtle forms than public invective. It more often manifests in experiences of disrespect, incivility, intolerance or contempt of their visible difference, culture, ethnicity or religion. Often it takes the form of negative cultural stereotypes – whether used in earnest or in jest. It includes being perpetually questioned on whether you truly belong in Australia based on the colour of your skin, or being told to ‘go back to where you came from’ – even if you ‘come’ from Australia. It includes facing disadvantages in the labour market or being treated like a second-class citizen simply because you have an accent and by implication cannot speak ‘proper’ English.

In many cases, the indignity of such experiences is compounded by the silence that results from the complexity of explaining why such treatment is experienced as racism. We know that often victims of racism and related forms of discrimination are forced to shrug off their experiences and forget them as best they can, while steeling themselves for future encounters of the same nature. For people who experience it, racism can be difficult to name and challenge. Yet, it is real and hurtful. Every such experience erodes a person’s sense of belonging and dignity.

Today, over a quarter of the Australian population is born overseas, and around half of us are of migrant background. As one of the most diverse countries in the world we need to find more articulate and effective ways of dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.

In order to name and understand racism we need to be more articulate about our diversity. This includes efforts to ensure that our mainstream media reflects the demographic and everyday reality of diversity in Australia. Why is it that on Australian public television this diversity is confined to SBS, or one or two non-white news anchors on the ABC? The diverse faces, stories and neighbourhoods of Australia should be better reflected in mainstream media.

As an Australian society, we also need better education and awareness of our own complex and multi-faceted history, the histories and cultures of our neighbouring countries, and of Australia’s place in an interconnected world. For example, the recent focus on the importance of “Asia literacy” should be about more than our strategic economic and geopolitical interests in the ‘Asian century’. First and foremost, Australians need to better understand the heritage of Australians of Asian and other non-British backgrounds as a part of our story as a nation.

We need better resources for people providing public services, such as bus drivers, to deal with issues of racism and discrimination in the cacophony of everyday diversity.

There also needs to be an awareness on the part of all Australians that belonging to a dominant ethnic group does not accord a superior entitlement to question “others” on their place in Australia. It has to be possible for Australians to imagine ‘us’ as a multitude that cannot be reduced to one colour or one perspective.

We write as residents of Sydney and members of a student community who care deeply about our city, about Australia, and the well being of the people we share it with.  We do not want our friends and colleagues, whether they were born here, or migrated here, to have to accept racism as a ‘normal’ part of their lives, or to face the question “where are you really from” for the rest of their lives in Australia. No one deserves to have their belonging in Australia undermined, in public or otherwise.

Elsa Koleth, Magdalena Arias Cubas, Sohoon Lee and Derya Ozkul are PhD candidates in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney. 

What do you think: We know about the 457. What about the 485?

We know about the 457. What about the 485?

A different visa category could be the subject of future debates about temporary migration, writes Peter Mares

28 March 2013

IN THE first week of March, Julia Gillard promised “to stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back.” Her speech in Western Sydney provoked a testy and at times unsavoury national debate about whether temporary migrants on 457 visas were “stealing Aussie jobs.” Less than three weeks later, the federal government quietly changed the rules of another visa in ways that will enable thousands more temporary migrants to work in Australia for up to four years.

Alterations to visa subclass 485, the Temporary Graduate Visa, will make it easier for international students to stay in Australia after successfully completing their studies. The changes, which took effect on 23 March, allow students to obtain a two-year work visa if they study in Australia for at least sixteen months and complete either a bachelor’s degree or a masters by course work. Students who complete a masters by research can qualify for a three-year visa, while those who complete a doctorate get four years.

This is a significant increase on the previous limit of eighteen months. What’s more, applicants no longer need to be qualified for any of the jobs on the Skilled Occupation List – the government’s list of job categories deemed to be in short supply, which is currently dominated by health and engineering professions. Any graduate can get the 485 visa if they are under fifty years of age and have competent English, as long as their first visa to study in Australia was granted on or after 5 November 2011.

Introduced in 2008, the 485 visa was originally designed to allow international students graduating from Australian courses “to gain skilled work experience or improve their English language skills.” While that is still an aim, the broadening of the visa also serves to make studying at an Australian university more appealing in a competitive global education market.

The government promised to expand post-study work rights in September 2011, in response to a review of the student visa program by former NSW Sydney Olympics minister Michael Knight. The government commissioned the review after a sharp fall in international enrolments at Australian tertiary institutions, partly caused by the high Australian dollar and a series of violent attacks on overseas students. Also important, however, was a change in policy that broke the near-automatic link between studying in Australia and the right to permanent residency, which had been established under John Howard. With that carrot removed, enrolments fell as students went elsewhere.

Expanding temporary work rights was an attempt to regain lost ground. Knight stated plainly that an expanded work visa was essential to “the ongoing viability of our universities in an increasingly competitive global market for students.” Vice-chancellors also made the connection explicit. At the time, Glenn Withers, chief executive of Universities Australia, said that Knight’s “breakthrough” proposal was as good as or better than the work rights on offer in Canada and the United States.

With about 240,000 international students enrolled at Australian universities and colleges, it would be interesting to know whether there has been any modelling of the anticipated demand for the expanded 485 visa. The visa was proving popular even before the work rights were expanded: annual visa grants grew from about 15,000 in 2009 to around 38,000 in 2012, and by the last year there were some 38,000 graduates in Australia on the post-study visa.

It’s likely that tens of thousands more graduates are waiting for their 485 visas to be issued. If the current processing time of twelve months persists then the two-year post-study entitlement is, in reality, valid for three years, since graduates can live and work in Australia on a bridging visa while applications work their way through the system.

The 457 and the 485 visas have many features in common. In both cases, temporary migrants must have private medical insurance and are not eligible for any government benefits. But there are also some big differences, and these could make the 485 visa even more contentious if numbers continue to grow fast.

Unlike skilled workers on a 457 visa, international graduates do not need a firm offer of work from an employer. Nor must they find a job related to their qualifications or requiring a certain level of skill. While 457 visa workers must be paid at or above prevailing market rates, the temporary graduate visa has no minimum salary requirements.

If 457 workers are retrenched, they have just one month to find another employer to sponsor them into a skilled job at a similar level; otherwise, their visa expires and they have to leave the country. A 485 visa remains valid regardless of whether a temporary migrant is in or out of work.

So while the stated intention of the new policy is for international graduates to gain experience in their professional area of study, there is nothing to prevent them working in any job, anywhere. While the economy and the labour market are strong this may not be much of an issue. If unemployment were to rise sharply in a downturn, however, attitudes might well change – particularly if leading political figures start talking about foreigners stealing “Aussie” jobs.

As a backgrounder from the parliamentary library puts it, the effect of the new rules on the job market will be worth monitoring. •

Peter Mares is an adjunct fellow at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research.