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Adjustment of Iranians in Australia

Shakibaee, Siavash (2001) Adjustment of Iranians in Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The central question of this study considers what it means to be an Iranian living outside Iran’s borders. The key themes of identity, homeland and belonging are explored in an interpretive framework based on in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals and focus groups, participant observation, content analysis, and taking interdisciplinary approach.

The participants in the study were born and lived in Iran for more than four decades. They chose to migrate to Australia due to the changes brought about by 1979 revolution. The participants are professionals who belong to the Iranian Middle class.

The overriding framework for the thesis is the notion of border crossing as a site of possibilities. The idea that we all cross borders regularly in our daily lives is employed to generalise the experiences of migration and to highlight the universal relevance.

The aim of the thesis is to develop a conceptual model to help to explain the impact of the migration process on the settlement experience of Iranian in Australia. Instead of earlier straight line theories of settlement it advocate a more circular conceptualisation of the migration experience.

Participants are seen as a point of a triad whose two other points are Iran and Australia. Their location or dislocation between those two points was explored through this conceptual model to explain the impact of their homeland, the exposure to a new culture, and the response to the impact of multiple loss and gain.

The participant's comments throughout this study show the powerful influence that memory exerts on the interpretation of their present situation. But at the time they are overwhelmed by the power it exercises over them. For them the concept of home is no longer simply associated with a feeling of security, a place of belonging, limited to the immediate family, but also with memories and their birthplace. Sometimes it even takes on a national character.

This study has provided useful insights into how Iranians perceive their new life, the strategies they use to adjust themselves to new society, how they manage to remain Iranian and at the same time generate a new identity in the process of their border crossing. The study contributed to the literature related to the impact of migration on Iranian people through the development of a mode of acculturation which takes into account the dynamic and complex and sometimes circular relation of belonging to the country of origin and to the second society. Their mode of acculturation is a mix of involuntary and voluntarily move to new society, and belonging to both homeland and second society, which produces a circular belonging to both countries of origin and host country.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Main, Alex
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