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Migration, Class, and Transnational Identities

Migration, Class, and Transnational Identities: Croatians in Australia and America

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    Migration, Class, and Transnational Identities
    Book Description:

    Harnessing concepts and theories from sociology, anthropology, and political science, this interdisciplinary study compares the vastly different experiences of two Croatian immigrant cohorts who have settled in the city of Perth in Western Australia. The populations explored represent an earlier group of working-class migrants arriving from communist Yugoslavia from the 1950s to 1970s and a later group of urban professionals arriving in the 1980s and 1990s as 'independent' or skills-based migrants. This latter group integrated into professional ranks but also used their Australian experience as a stepping stone in becoming part of a highly mobile global professional middle class. _x000B__x000B_Employing a refined theoretical analysis, this rich ethnography challenges the domination of the ethnic perspective in migration studies and the idea of ethnic community itself. It emphasizes the importance of class, focusing on the intersection of class, ethnicity, and gender in the process of migration, migrant incorporation and transnationalism. In theorizing the connection of the two migrant cohorts with their native Croatia the study introduces concepts of "ethnic" and "cosmopolitan" transnationalism as two distinctive experiences mediated by class.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09086-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Series Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    At the time I started fieldwork for this study, I was called to an interpreting assignment to help an elderly Croatian woman undergo a psychiatric assessment. Mara was in her early eighties and lived alone in her old home in Northbridge, an inner-city suburb of Perth.¹ Her children were concerned about her ability to cope independently because “she was becoming a little forgetful,” her son explained. The four of us sat around Mara’s kitchen table and the psychiatric nurse was going through his usual schedule. What was the month, the year, the day of the week, the season? When was...

  4. 1 The Homeland
    (pp. 29-53)

    On a hot day in July 1997 I was walking down Zagreb’s main street, Ilica, zigzagging through the crowd on the pavement, deafened by the iron clamor of trams passing by frighteningly close. I jumped into one and ended up pressed against a stranger, my nose filled with the summer smells of too many people cramped together in a small space. The unwanted intimacy triggered a typical Australian reaction to Europe: “This place is so crowded!” This was my first trip to Croatia after migrating to Australia. The emigrant’s experience of “visiting home” included a strange mixture of feelings: wonder,...

  5. 2 The Global Context
    (pp. 54-69)

    Over the past several decades, the process of globalization intensified and diversified world migration. Although population movements flow in a variety of directions and for a variety of reasons, the most massive migration flows still run from less-developed to more-developed countries (Castles and Miller 2003). In this context, the contested notions of the world’s developed “center,” “semi-periphery,” and “periphery” still have heuristic value in understanding global mobility. Different levels of urbanization and economic development, and the subsequent earning differential between countries, remain the most important cause of world migrations; most migrants move to places where they expect to get higher...

  6. 3 The Hostland: A Designed Nation
    (pp. 70-90)

    Australia is one of the world’s youngest settler nations, and it relentlessly attracts large numbers of immigrant settlers as well as an increasing number of transients: tourists, young people on working vacations, professionals and executives on job assignments, and temporary guest workers. According to the 2006 census, only 2.5 percent of the Australian population were indigenous Australians (ABS 2006) and therefore more than 97 percent of the population were immigrants and their descendants. From the first convict ships transporting prisoners from England in the late eighteenth century to today’s diverse migration patterns, Australia has been built as a nation of...

  7. 4 Farewell My Village by the Sea: Working-Class Croatians in Australian Suburbia
    (pp. 91-127)

    I first met Anna, who was to become my first interviewee from the older cohort, one early morning when I was booked for an interpreting job in the largest city hospital. It turned out that two women waited for me there, a frail eighty-five-year-old in a wheelchair, and Anna, who accompanied her elderly relative. This was one of those interpreting jobs where I hardly had to do anything: Anna understood the old lady much better than I did. Apart from speaking the identical village dialect of Croatian, Anna was familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the old lady’s personal idiom. We...

  8. 5 Ubi lucrum, ibi patria: Incorporation and Transnationalism of the Professional Cohort
    (pp. 128-156)

    The urban and “Westernized” generation of young professionals who completed their education in Croatia during the 1980s expected their formal skills to be the basis for a satisfying professional career, but their expectations were seriously frustrated by the prolonged economic and political crisis during the terminal decade of communism. High unemployment and inflation were compounded by the political crisis and nationalist tensions. Life choices were limited within the homeland and many young professionals chose to emigrate. Vlado,¹ who left Croatia in 1988 with his young wife, explained his motives for migration:

    There were no prospects for my generation. When I...

  9. 6 The Croatian Diaspora: Transnationalism, Class, and Identity
    (pp. 157-179)

    The concept of diaspora gained considerable currency in the sociology of migration in the 1990s.¹ The idea that originated in the historic experience of the scattering of Jewish people outside their native land implies that a community—normally a nation inhabiting a compact territory—experienced a forced dispersion (Safran 1999). The separation of parts of the national whole thus often carries tragic or at least nostalgic connotations, and leaving the homeland is often construed as a collective trauma that in the collective memory becomes the tie that binds. The connection between scattered communities and the homeland is essential in defining...

  10. 7 From Communism to Capitalism: Altered Values and Shifting Identities?
    (pp. 180-204)

    The study of two cohorts of Croatians in Australia shows that class determines people’s values, identities, and experience of transnational migration as much as, if not more than, ethnicity. Over the past decades, however, the ethnicity perspective has dominated migration studies and class has been neglected as an analytical axis. Having been previously involved with my respondents from both cohorts through either professional work or social contacts, I started my research with the idea that the two groups of migrants had different attitudes on many social issues. In one-to-one interviews I relied on an indirect method of asking people about...

  11. CONCLUSION: Between or Beyond Nations? Class, Ethnicity, and Transnationalism in the Global Century
    (pp. 205-218)

    This study captured two cohorts of Croatian Australians in a specific moment of their migration process, while their transnational lives were continuing and transforming. As transnationalism theory has postulated, migration is an ongoing process that does not finish either at the moment of landing in the new country or at some indeterminable moment of assimilation. The migration experiences described in this book also reflect the historical contexts, both of their home country, Croatia, especially turbulent in the last decade of the twentieth century, as well as of their host country, Australia, with its dynamic social development over the postwar decades....