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When children are not ‘the left behind’: Transnational practices of intra-regional mobility in the South Pacific

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Much of the traditional literature on migration in the South Pacific describes Pacific Islands as countries of permanent out-migration directed towards the Rim countries. Yet over the past two decades there has been considerable diversification of the routes and patterns of South Pacific mobility. This article, by focusing on emerging mobility trajectories between Pacific Island Countries, ventures into the scarcely studied arena of intra-regional migration with a case study of Nauruan migrant families in Fiji. Conceptually, this research is positioned within the literature on transnationalism. Yet most studies on transnational family migration have focused on ‘South–North’ migration routes; emphasized the impacts of both economic and social remittances on local communities at origin; and identified migratory patterns characterized by family separation, with parents ‘on the move’ and children and older family members ‘left-behind’. This article, which relies on a mix-method approach integrating quantitative data and qualitative information, provides a complementary perspective highlighting the centrality of education as primary driver of the migration process, the pivotal role of children in the construction of transnational social fields and the intersections between institutional structures, self-initiated practices of movement and kinship relations in shaping the family migratory trajectories.
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Keywords: South Pacific; South–South migration; education; family migration; migrant children; transnational childhood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Stockholm Environment Institute – Asia Centre and The University of the South Pacific

Publication date: July 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Transient migration due to the global movements of people for work, study and lifestyle is part of everyday life. This journal thus aims to provide a platform that explores and investigates the complexities of transient migration and to map the experiences of the growing number of transient migrants as they engage and interact with communities that are linked both to their home and host nations. This journal seeks to look at the ways in which transient migrants cope with transience and how transient migration affects individuals and communities in this transitional yet significant period. The scope of the journal will include but not be limited to themes of belonging, identity, networks, nation, culture, religion, race and ethnicity, gender and memory while incorporating the roles played by various platforms to facilitate these themes such as media, politics, policy, economy and the creative industries.
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