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Putting Transnationalism in Context: comparing Hong Kong Chinese-Australians in Sydney and Brisbane

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The nature and extent of transnational links, identities and citizenship are embedded within the places where migrants reside. A comparison between Chinese-Australians with Hong Kong heritage in Sydney and in Brisbane demonstrates the effects of place. A data set of 182 respondents was extracted from the 2005-06 telephone survey of the Australian Transnational Project. The data provide an insight into variations and similarities in return visits, family visits to Australia, remittances, international communication, dual citizenship, cultural retention, belonging in Australia, and senses of identity. Members of the Brisbane community are more recently established, more highly qualified, and this is reflected in their higher rates of communication with, and remittances to, family in Hong Kong, and reliance on Web-based Chinese media. There may be a heightened sense of anxiety about cultural loss and generally more involvement in Chinese community cultural activities and events. Members of the Sydney community are longer established and have a more diverse socio-economic profile. A greater proportion of the Sydney respondents never communicated with family in Hong Kong. More had only Australian citizenship and self-identified as only Australian. The important effects of place on transnationalism include: size and function of the city; nature of the housing market; migrant reception infrastructure; migrant groups' cultural infrastructure; the extent of diversity; and the nature of community relations. The differing longevity of presence of a group in a city is reflected in their embeddedness and in subtle variations in their transnationalism.

Keywords: Australia; Brisbane; Chinese; Hong Kong; Sydney; Transnationalism; embeddedness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of New South Wales, Australia; University of Queensland, Australia

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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