ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201801.0281.v1
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Other Keywords: migrants; sense of belonging; small town; stranger; South Sudanese
Online: 30 January 2018 (10:35:53 CET)
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.