Dr Shanthi Robertson from Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society has retold Australian migration stories as part of a three-year research project, supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).

Dr Robertson’s research focused on the experiences of young Asian migrants in Australia, which challenge the classic ‘settler’ migration narrative of the 20th century.

Called Staggered Pathways, the project has unveiled the complex social realities of these new migration experiences, focusing in particular on how transnational mobility reshapes young Asian migrants’ lived experiences of time—from the timings of their life milestones, to the pace of everyday life in different places. The research has illuminated how transnationally mobile lives often involve contingencies, unexpected detours, and reimagined aspirations and desires in relation to work, place and social life.

A key outcome has been the development of ‘Time Maps’—interactive visual displays of the journeys and experiences of a selection of participants in the study. They include direct quotes from interviews taken during the project, as well as textual and visual artefacts that migrants have provided that relate to their experience—including photographs, emails, and immigration documents.

Time Maps allow us to become immersed in the real journeys of 21st century migration to Australia, with all their complexities and ups and downs.

Image: Visitors walk around Departure Hall in Changi Airport Singapore.
Credit: iStock/Nawadoln.