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17 March 2021 - 17 March 2021

10:00AM - 11:00AM

Online seminar using Zoom

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Part of the School of Education Research Seminar Series.

Times of the Heart: Young Asian Migrants in Australia and the Temporalities of Intimate Lives

Dr Shanthi Robertson, Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and an Institute Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University

This will be a virtual seminar using Zoom. Contact for details about how to take part. 

For many of the young, ‘middling’ migrants who travel from Asia to the West seeking ‘global’ educational and work experiences, intimate relationships play a pivotal, yet often unacknowledged, role in decisions about and experiences of mobility. The timelines and timings of intimate lives reflect the intersections of youthful mobilities with the intimate transitions of ‘becoming adult’—including both periods of structuring singlehood and planning coupled futures.  This paper examines how, for young adult migrants from Asia living in Australia, proximity, distance and transience (and the governance structures through which these are mediated) complicate these processes and, in particular, shape lived temporality in specific ways. Drawing on data from in-depth narrative interviews and ‘time-mapping’ with 42 migrant participants, the paper explores how the lived and imagined timelines and timings of intimate partnerships unfold alongside and became intertwined with im/mobility in complex ways. In particular, it addresses how migration conditions, particularly insecure, time-bound visa pathways, radically impact the temporalities of intimate life, and how ‘settling down’ into adult relationships is negotiated within the open-ended, insecure and unmappable mobility pathways of contemporary youth migration.


Shanthi Robertson is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and an Institute Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, specializing in migration and diversity, youth studies and urban social change. She has completed an Australian Research Council (ARC) fellowship on Asian temporary migrants to Australia and is currently Chief Investigator on three ARC Discovery and Linkage projects that focus on: the economic, social and civic outcomes of transnational youth mobility for young people moving into and out of Australia for work, leisure and study; the role of autonomous technology in the social inclusion of migrants living with disability in Sydney; and the changing social civic practices in Sydney suburbs with high numbers of Chinese heritage residents. Her most recent publications appear in Geoforum, Current Sociology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and Journal of Youth Studies. Her second book, Temporality in Mobile Lives: Contemporary Asia-Australia Migration and Everyday Time, was published by Bristol University Press January 2021.