4 June 2008

SEMINAR - Newcomers & the ‘Locally Established’: Indian overseas students and the local Indian community in Melbourne, Australia (UTS; 27 June 2008)

Newcomers & the ‘Locally Established’:
Indian overseas students and the local Indian community in Melbourne, Australia

Friday 27th June, 6pm
Venue: University of Technology Sydney (Bldg3, rm210, enter via 755 Harris St)

As statistics show, the propensity of Indian overseas students in Australia applying for permanent residency (PR, in short) after graduation is very high; nearly three quarters are expected to do so. As the number of Indian overseas students is increasing considerably, so does the number of permanently settled Indians in Australia. It is on the ambivalent relationship between Indian overseas students and the locally established Indian community that I wish to focus in this presentation. Central to my analysis will be the role the local Indian community plays in the lives of Indian overseas students; how they see and interact with each other as well as how they profit from each other. It will be argued that Indian students are seen to be a threat to the image the Indian community has of itself; an image which they also ‘imagine’ (white/Anglo-Saxon) Australians to have of them. Although Indian students generally come to Australia to undertake their Masters’ degrees, the fact that the majority enrol at lower ranking ‘cheap’ universities makes them ‘suspect’ in the eyes of the community. The jobs they seem to find after graduation (taxi driving, waiting tables) further threatens the image the community has of itself. In order to analyze this further I will make use of anthropological literature on the Indian diaspora as well as the way success and failure have been conceptualized in the literature on migration and transnationalism.

Short Curriculum Vitae

Michiel Baas obtained his BA degree in International Management in 1998, and studied Cultural Anthropology & Non-Western Sociology from 2000-2003. He did research among the IT professionals of Bangalore (India) for his MA thesis and graduated (cum laude) in December 2003. In March 2004 he joined the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research (University of Amsterdam) as a PhD student. His project is entitled: “Flexible Transnationalism - Displaced Indian Overseas Students In Between Legality and Illegality in India and Australia. If all goes well his dissertation will be submitted in July, 2008. He is also currently the branch office coordinator of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Amsterdam.