Campus, City, Networks and Nation: Student-Migrant Activism as Socio-spatial Experience in Melbourne, Australia

Authors


  • I would like to sincerely thank participants in the Cities and Communities Roundtable and colleagues in the Globalism Research Centre at RMIT University for helpful discussions on early versions of this article, as well as the three anonymous IJURR reviewers for their very insightful and valuable comments.

Abstract

‘Education–migration nexus’ policies in Australia between 1998 and 2010 linked international education with different forms of temporary and permanent migration. This resulted in a blurring of boundaries around student, worker, consumer, migrant and ethnic identities. While the exploitation, marginalization and vulnerability of international students in Australia has gained a great deal of media and scholarly attention, less consideration has been given to the varied forms of subsequent protest undertaken by student migrants in Australian cities. This article analyses three case studies of protests involving student migrants in Melbourne: a protest against unfair assessment; a fight for a campus prayer room; and labour protests within the retail service and taxi industries. It draws on theoretical work on new social movements and social transformation in urban spaces to find ways to conceptualize this activism in relation to the scales of campus, city and nation. In doing so, it argues primarily that these sites of protest are socio-spatial experiences that encompass shifting and socially produced spatial scales, as well as complex networks of association across different communities, which in turn reflect different student-migrant identities.

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