From 'Fish out of water' to 'Fitting in': The challenge of re-placing home in a mobile world

Butcher, Melissa (2010). From 'Fish out of water' to 'Fitting in': The challenge of re-placing home in a mobile world. Population, Space and Place, 16(1) pp. 23–36.



Recent academic arguments in transnational and mobility studies have emphasised fluid and flexible understandings of concepts such as place and home. This paper, however, will argue that the desire to fix home with particular meaning by attaching it to place is still apparent even for highly mobile migrants, and seeks to explore why this is the case. Using data from qualitative research with a group of highly mobile Australian transnational professionals working in Asia, the paper elaborates on social, material, and imaginative home-making strategies utilised to re-place home, regarded as a space of comfort and cultural fit. These strategies were ultimately a means by which expatriates managed affective responses to difference that were generated in new cultural contexts that challenged subjective understandings of identity. The paper concludes that mobility does not necessarily equate with relinquishing connections between home and place, but complex belonging to 'bits' of multiple homes for particular participants was also evident.

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