Nostalgia, schooling and the navigation of transnational space

Year: 2016

Author: Higginson, Joanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

My research is concerned with the imagined futures of children of today’s skilled migrants to Australia – especially those whose migration is part of global workflows and is not necessarily permanent. My method focuses on intergenerational family experience, interviewing senior secondary students as they experience their final years of school and plan for the world beyond. I also interview their parents, asking them about their memories of their own school experiences as well as their hopes for their children’s future. I am aiming to capture globalization related change “in process” and at a local and intimate, familial level, exploring ideas of imagination (Appadurai 1996) and subjectivity.As Year 10 students, those who study history have opportunities to learn about twentieth century experiences of “New Australians” and “ten pound poms” within the Australian curriculum (Migration experiences 1945-present, ACARA). In studying this current generation’s experience I join the ranks of researchers grappling with a contemporary shift to a more footloose migration paradigm: ideas of diaspora, denizen and transnationality shape the discourse in what Nikos Papastergiadis (2013) identifies as a crisis of conceptualisation. Here I explore the role of education related to nostalgia in performing and navigating transnational and diasporic identity. Svetlana Boym (2001) observes that technology and progress have not cured nostalgia – once described as a disease of longing – rather they have exacerbated it. Similarly, “reflective nostalgia” – a nostalgia focused on “off modern” critique, rather than an inherently conservative restoration of the past, works to assemble diasporic solidarity. Boym observes that expressions of nostalgia articulate and explore experiences of migration and internal multiculturalism. Arjun Appadurai (1996) discusses the capacity of electronic media to generate vicarious, armchair and ersatz nostalgia to create a sense of collective memory, even in the absence of direct experience. I look at social media and memories of school as sites for reflective nostalgia and the creation of collective memory. I aim to explore their intersection with identity, imagination and aspiration, for both parents and their school student children as they navigate strategic and multiple senses of longing and belonging within local, transnational and educational space.