Dr Catherine Gomes is an ARC Early Career Researcher Fellow, working to uncover the evolving cultural and social identities of transient migrants in Australia and Singapore.
Gomes’ new book, Multiculturalism through the lens: a beginner’s guide to ethnic and migrant anxieties in Singapore (Ethos Books) will be launched by the RMIT Communications Politics and Culture Research Centre on 15 April.
What is your current research focus?
My current research looks at the identities, social networks and media use of transient migrants (such as international students) in Australia and Singapore. This allows me to look at the social and cultural conditions of transient migrants and thus map out new and emerging patterns in migration.
What’s your goal - what do you seek to learn?
In my new book I wanted to understand how Singapore, as a young society, was coping with the changes brought about by globalisation. At the same time I wanted to also understand my own questions about race and ethnicity since I grew up in Singapore as an ethnic minority.
What is your approach in your work?
My work tends to be multidisciplinary since this is a dynamic way in helping us understand how people negotiate their everyday life.
Explain the impact of your research - who will it affect and how?
My research into migrant anxieties in Singapore was one of the first scholarly works to address this issue and launched others to look into this phenomenon.
It will affect Singapore’s citizenry who are aggrieved against the current political order and social control, and the social dissonance that marks contemporary socio-political discourse in Singapore on globalisation, transnational migration, economic progress, and societal development.
They would find this study on mapping the social discourse of contemporary Singapore through film a compelling read.
How are transient migrants in Singapore different – and similar – to those in Australia?
While Singapore is turning itself into an international education hub, its approach to international students is different from Australia.
Singapore encourages international students to stay through bonded scholarships, where recipients work for a Singapore-based company for three years in order to meet the labour shortage. Singapore’s population reached 5.47 million in June 2014, including 1.6 million non-resident foreigners who work and study in the city-state, with plans to increase numbers to around 7 million by 2030.
What drew you to this specific field?
I have always been interested in intercultural encounters and the ways in which each side reacts to each other. With more global mobility, these encounters become very much part of everyday life.
How has your work developed over the years?
My work has evolved since my PhD days, where the focus was on cinema. While I’m still interested in screen, I’m growing very fond of talking to people in order to understand how to deal with day-to-day living.
Have there been any unexpected outcomes from your research? How did this come about?
While my work has steadfastly been multidisciplinary, I am finding that my research is leading me into areas I never thought I would go into such as education. Moreover I’ve been pleased that community networks have taken an interest in what I have been doing.
What has been the proudest moment in your research career so far?
I have to say that being awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) was perhaps the most humbling moment for me.
For more information about the book launch on 15 April contact: firstname.lastname@example.org