Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration 2.2 is now available

Intellect is delighted to announce that Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration 2.2 is now available! For more information about the issue, click here >>


Return to Mecca: Balik-Islam among Filipino migrants in Singapore

Authors: Teresita Cruz-del Rosario 
Page Start: 91

The narrative of the globalization of labour and the demands of the labour market dominates most of the scholarship on Filipino migration, emphasizing their contribution to the Philippine economy via remittances even while these migrants endure difficulties working in forbidding terrain – a companion narrative of sacrifice and endurance. What remains below the surface, however, is the enchantment with the discovery of a new world-view among them. Balik-Islam, the ‘return’ to Islam, is part of the imaginary among Filipinos who have travelled, lived and worked across territories, connecting them to Mecca, both physically and spiritually. While their labour skills brought them to the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries, their journey expanded into the discovery of meanings beyond their labour value. In this article, I regard Mecca as an imaginary among Filipino travellers who have somehow bridged the connection between their lost Islamic heritage and their labour, the latter allowing them to reclaim this heritage as authentic to their identity. In this article, I discuss the reconfiguration of Mecca as ‘home’, ‘redemption’ and ‘resurrection’ among itinerant Filipinos: first, as a salve to constant dislocations in an impersonal and aggressive global economy, second, as a source of salvation from indulgence in otherwise forbidden behaviour in foreign territories where the codes of behaviour back home have been transgressed (e.g., adultery) and third, as a spiritual resurrection in which a return to Mecca erases the past and provides a new path, a new identity and a rebirth. However, a more instrumentalist view of conversion, one that depicts conversion as part of a rational strategy to ease the tensions in intimate relations between Catholics and Muslims, also forms part of this article. In this latter dimension, Mecca is an ‘absent’ place bereft of spiritual meaning and serves to reinforce the homelessness of the migration experience.

Overcoming prejudice, seeking support: Transnational social media communication of female Vietnamese students in South Korea and Singapore

Authors: Soontae An And Sun Sun Lim And Hannah Lee And Becky Pham 
Page Start: 107

This study examined the role of social media in the daily lives of migrant students. The focus of this study was students’ use of social media and the benefits that they derived from it, particularly for communication with friends and family back in their home country. A total of 45 female Vietnamese students participated in a week-long social media-deprivation exercise in which they abstained from using social media to connect with friends and family in Vietnam and/or focus group discussions on their daily communication practices. A cross-cultural comparison was conducted to evaluate the differences between twenty Vietnamese students living in South Korea and 25 Vietnamese students living in Singapore. The findings indicate key differences in the sociocultural environment that influence their social media communication. Vietnamese students in South Korea drew closer to their co-national friends due to stronger perceptions of discrimination than their counterparts in Singapore, who integrated more easily into the multi-cultural environment. The findings suggest that international students should optimize their social media use to build diverse and encompassing social networks that are mutually reinforcing rather than mutually exclusive to facilitate adaptation.

Why they left home again: Understanding repeat migration to the United States

Authors: Anjana Narayan And Anthony Ocampo 
Page Start: 127

While sociologists of immigration have examined the mechanisms of both circulatory and return migration, there has been relatively little discussion of repeat migration. Repeat migration refers to a small, but significant segment of immigrants who made the decision to permanently migrate back to the adopted country, after attempts to resettle back in the home society failed. Drawing on in-depth interviews with highly skilled Indian repeat migrants in the United States, we attempt to fill this gap. Although these migrants possessed the economic, legal and cultural capacity to reintegrate back to their home society, our findings revealed that the value of these forms of capital was diminished upon going back home. In chronicling their labour market, cultural and emotional challenges, we also demonstrate the limits of transnational and return migration frameworks for explaining the phenomena of repeat migration.

Seeking academic help: A case study of peer brokering interactions

Authors: Sherrie Lee 
Page Start: 149

The literature often depicts international students as deficient due to poor English language skills and limited participation in class, thus positioning them as lacking in agency or habitually weak. This article reframes international students as resourceful learners by focusing on their academic learning through brokering, that is, help-seeking social interactions. Understood as part of informal learning practices, brokering interactions take place when students seek assistance with unfamiliar academic texts and practices from brokers, that is, those who are able to bridge cultural and knowledge gaps. The article reports on research that investigated brokering practices among ten international English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in their initial semester of study at a New Zealand university. In particular, the article examines the brokering interactions between two participants, Linda, a first-year student, and her broker Emily, a fellow Mainland Chinese student who provided information and advice about various academic tasks and situations. A conversation analytic approach that views brokering as asymmetrical knowledge positions is used to analyse twelve episodes of brokering interactions in Chinese that took place through WeChat, a mobile phone application. Initial analysis reveals that the dynamics of brokering interactions between Linda and Emily were characterized by a display of social solidarity, even as seeker and broker negotiated their knowledge positions over information or advice offered by the broker. The article concludes that peer brokering between same language speakers provides a collegial space in which students exercise agency by utilizing sociolinguistic resources. Thus educational institutions should recognise the importance of international students’ informal academic learning and increase opportunities for EAL students to build and enhance their social connections with peers as part of a holistic approach towards academic support.

Better pathways to success? – A study of foundation studies alumni

Authors: Ian Teo And Shanton Chang 
Page Start: 175

Foundation studies (or pathways) programmes (FSPs) seek to prepare international students for their transition into university by providing bridging courses to meet their academic, sociocultural and personal needs. The growth of such programmes over the previous decade has boomed to over 1000 English-medium providers worldwide and has been valued at $1.4 billion with no indication of slowing down. While these programmes serve an instrumental purpose in terms of providing international students with a pathway into university, it has become clear that these students seek more than just a qualification by the end of their sojourn, and value also the quality of their broader relationships, preparation and participation at university. For more than 25 years, Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) in Melbourne has served to prepare a wide-range of international students for their higher education (HE) studies. The present study will report on quantitative and qualitative data derived from TCFS alumni who were surveyed at the start of 2017. In particular, two branches of alumni-related expectations and experiences will be addressed. First, the types of extra-curricula activities respondents reflected upon as being important for their broader welfare or well-being while enrolled as foundation students will be discussed. Second, findings involving the types of support they sought during and after university, and the ways in which they wished to reconnect with TCFS will be described. Implications and recommendations relating to the aforementioned data will subsequently be presented.

Book Reviews
  • Race, Education and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies and a Culture of Migration, Sin Yee Koh (2017) 
  • Marriage Migration in Asia: Emerging Minorities at the Frontiers of Nation-States, Sari K. Ishii (ed.) (2016)
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