Unique Isolation Versus Networks of Opportunity: The competing discourses of Tasmania

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In order to understand why people move, we must first try to comprehend how they understand their migration decisions and recognize that such understandings are intricately tied to their understandings of places. Place construction – the way people understand and discuss the nature and meaning of places – occurs at all levels from individual constructions to constructions by economic and political interest groups. These place constructions necessarily influence each other, and hence they are in constant flux and reflect power relations evident in society. This article examines these issues in the context of the negative net migration of young adults in the Australian state of Tasmania through an examination of the experiences of thirty young return migrants who participated in in-depth interviews and group discussions about their experiences of migration. It finds that bounded constructions of Tasmania – which stress the physical isolation and social and political insularity of the state as well as the uniqueness of the state’s environment and society – appear to be dominant for these young returned migrants. However, the article argues that these bounded constructions necessarily exist in relation to networked constructions, which focus on the opportunities for people, ideas, goods and money to benefit through connections with other places as well as the loss of the uniqueness of the Tasmanian environment and society. This article concludes with a discussion of the political, economic and social consequences of these different forms of place construction.
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Easthope, Hazel
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