Detailing transnational lives of the middle: British working holiday makers in Australia
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31, (2), . (doi:10.1080/1369183042000339945).
In recent years, writings on transnationalism have commendably repopulated a world stripped by globalisation theorists with institutions and capable individuals. But, in doing so, they have tended to focus on either end of the labour market, neglecting the middle, and to operate at altitude, neglecting the everyday intricacies of travelling and dwelling. Australia's working holiday programme enables young citizens of arrangement countries to holiday and work in Australia for up to 12 months. During 2001-02, I spent nine months researching--observing, formally interviewing, participating with--British and other working holiday makers (WHMs) in Sydney and a few secondary sites. I found that detailing transnational lives of the middle provides flesh for the bones thrown by James Clifford when he wrote rather speculatively on practices of travelling-in-dwelling and dwelling-in-travelling. WHMs travel-in-dwelling passively through the Internet, television, radio, and portable objects; and interactively through phone calls, e-mails, gifts and face-to-face conversation with other WHMs. And WHMs dwell-in-travelling through backpacker and local communities, drawing on objects and technologies, sites, and events and rhythms. I also found that detailing transnational lives of the middle gives us some new bones: the metaphor of uneven mobility as a means of differentiating middling transnationalisms. Some WHMs embrace corporeal, virtual and imaginative mobility more than others, as do some more permanent residents of Sydney.
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