Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Belonging, Strangerhood and Mobility: South Sudanese in a Rural Town, Victoria

Version 1 : Received: 29 January 2018 / Approved: 30 January 2018 / Online: 30 January 2018 (10:35:53 CET)

How to cite: Wickramaarachchi, N.; Burns, E. Belonging, Strangerhood and Mobility: South Sudanese in a Rural Town, Victoria. Preprints 2018, 2018010281. Wickramaarachchi, N.; Burns, E. Belonging, Strangerhood and Mobility: South Sudanese in a Rural Town, Victoria. Preprints 2018, 2018010281.


Australian regional areas are now receiving significant numbers of migrants from the African continent. Predominantly Anglo-Saxon communities perceive these ‘newcomers’ as physically and culturally different. Asking, however, how African migrants themselves construct relationships with local communities and build a sense of belonging in regional and rural areas is a very different question. This paper explores South Sudanese migrants’experiences conceptualising their sense of belonging in a small county town: Castlemaine, Victoria. Focus group discussions show that even with the welcoming atmosphere and support from the local community, South Sudanese migrants are still attracted to metropolitan environments that have greater diversity, feeling more at home in such settings. Using the theoretical background of a stranger, this paper argues the cities allow strangers be un-noticed letting them feel at ‘home’. Findings from the study show settings with greater diversity encourage negotiating difference openly and easing power imbalances among different groups.Finally, the locality of Castlemaine, within easy commuting distance to metropolitan Melbourne and suburbs, is considered in relation to hypermobility reducing the capacity to construct ‘bridging capital’ within such local communities.


migrants; sense of belonging; small town; stranger; South Sudanese


Arts and Humanities, Humanities

Comments (1)

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Comment 1
Received: 23 February 2018
Commenter: (Click to see Publons profile: )
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: In this study, the author investigated the relationships between African migrants\refugees and local communities and presented several policy recommendations based on the findings.

The Introduction was well structured and offered adequate background for the study. The purpose and the conclusion of the research paper were clear. Research aims are clearly outlined while study methods are valid and reliable.

It's fair to say I found it an engaging read but identified some important issues.

The abstract lacks clarity: you talk about migrant and then later in the text you address refugees. The terms “migrant” and “refugee” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a crucial legal difference between the two. Please clarify.

Keywords: i would suggest changing "small town" into "refugees"

1. You mentioned the number of the South Sudanese living in the Castlemaine, but what is the population of the city? What is the ratio, for example, refugees vs local population; South Sudanese refugees vs other refugees. These numbers can tell us a more about the research. The lack of this data seems serious limitation to the study.

2. How many South Sudanese participated in 12 focus group discussions? Were they men, women, children? What are the limitations of this focus group discussion?

3. Were there any questions for group discussion? If yes, what are they? Any surveys, interview papers? The text does not add to the data. You could add some supplementary materials, appendices, tables or figures to clearly present the data/numbers you are operating with.

4. you wrote that "A local level newspaper analysis was conducted prior to the Focus group discussions and that evidence shows how news articles have created a positive image of South Sudanese migrants in relation to their integration process in Castlemaine." How many newspapers did you analyse? 1 or 10? Who is the owner of the newspaper and who are the authors of the articles? (If the author is a South Sudanese then your assumption about the positive image of the migrants by local residents might be wrong!) What is the name of the newspaper/newspapers? Who are the owners? Are they available online? I would suggest you include the web address to verify and support your observation.

5. Page 5 "In a more radical manifestation, this “in-group” usually consists of western, white males." - please support your statement

page 3. newly arrived African community. . A local level newspaper - delete the second dot
page 8. , Therefore special - replace the capital letter
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