• The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 2.26, Social Sciences Building, Perth campus

    6009 Perth

    Australia

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Personal profile

Biography

Loretta Baldassar is Professor in the Discipline Group of Anthropology and Sociology at The University of Western Australia and Director of the UWA Social Care and Ageing (SAGE) Living Lab. Her research and teaching areas include migration, transnational families, ageing across the lifecourse, and Australian society. Loretta is Vice President of the International Sociological Association, Migration Research Committee (31) and a Regional Editor for the leading journal Global Networks. Her SAGE research team has expertise in social inclusion and marginalised communities, with particular interest in digital citizenship and social technology development and co-design methodologies. The SAGE team collaborates on projects, consultancies and evaluations with government, service providers and community groups. Professor Baldassar has successfully supported 5 international postdoctoral Fellowships, supervised over 30 doctoral students, 25 honours students, and several student internships. Professor Baldassar was recently named one of the top 30 Australian researchers in the Social Sciences, and Research Field Leader in Human Migration (The Australian, 23 September 2020).

 

Research

Professor Baldassar has four current intersecting areas of research progress and development: transnational families, ageing across the life course, youth mobilities, and internationalization at home. What connects these research areas is a focus on social care, family and community relations, culture and linguistic diversity, and the role of new technologies in supporting wellbeing. Professor Baldassar is also a leading scholar in Italian migration studies.

 

Transnational Families

Professor Baldassar’s PhD pioneered the transnational approach in Australian migration studies and formed the basis for her first book, Visits Home (2001), which won a prestigious NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Its contribution to scholarship was to critique the established view that migration ends with settlement by conceptualising visits home as part of an ongoing migration process. It was one of the first to employ a double-ended methodology comprising family relationships spanning home and host settings. This early work formed the basis of the ARC Large Grant, Transnational Caregiving (2000-2004), led by Baldassar and Professor Cora Baldock (Murdoch) and which was among the first studies to document the specifics of family life across distance. The major book output, Families Caring across Borders (2007), frequently cited as foundational to the transnational families field, introduced the concept of ‘transnational caregiving’. Its findings reveal how communication technologies can increase family and community migration networks, which were severely truncated in the past, including through the participation of younger generations. These projects informed the ARC Linkage, Italian Lives (2004-9), led by Baldassar, which examined the settlement, integration and transnational ties of a century of Italian migration to Australia across the generations and produced a web resource. Elements of these former projects were expanded in the ARC Linkage, Australian Diasporas (2008-11), which examined the economic, social and political factors that facilitate diaspora formation that have flow-on benefits for Australia. The book, Transnational Families, Migration and the Circulation of Care (2014) further builds on this work by introducing the concept of care circulation, an important extension to the care chains thesis and informed Ageing and New Media project

 

The ARC Discovery Project  Ageing and New Media (2016-2020), led by Professor Loretta Baldassar (UWA) and Associate Professor Raelene Wilding (La Trobe), examined how support networks for older people are affected by their mobility and the dispersal of their family, friends and care services. The project highlights the current and potential role that new media plays in fostering local, distant and virtual support networks of older Australians. Access to social networks and a capacity to belong and engage with other people is now understood as a significant indicator of healthy ageing. Importantly, the increasing uptake of new communication technologies means that social activities, social interactions and a sense of belonging are no longer limited to local, proximate networks and communities. From this research, Baldassar and Wilding have introduced the notions of digital kinning and digital homing to better understand the role of new technologies in supporting ageing, safeguarding social and cultural identity and facilitating social care. Two international postdoctoral Fellows: Dr Rosa Brandhorst (German Research Foundation) and Dr Lukasz Krzyzowski (Polish Research Foundation) were affiliated with this project, along with two ongoing UWA PhD projects: Cheng Yen Loo (Chinese Speaking older migrants) and Thi Hien Nguyen (Vietnamese older parent migrants and visitors). The Ageing and New Media project provided the foundation and inspiration for the establishment of the UWA Social Care and Ageing (SAGE) Living Lab and its focus on ageing across the life course.

 

Ageing across the life course:

Professor Baldassar recently established the UWA Social Care and Ageing (SAGE) Living Lab. The SAGE lab drives much needed innovation and policy development in the aged care and disability sectors. The key concepts of Social Care and Social Ageing highlight the critical importance of support networks, sense of belonging, and social connectivity to the wellbeing of individuals and communities; dimensions of care that are often under-developed in dominant medical approaches and under-resourced in current funding models. Through research-led, co-design collaboration, evaluation and consultancies, the UWA SAGE Living Lab facilitates partnerships with industry and government stakeholders and builds capacity in research and training. The UWA Living Lab has particular expertise in ageing across the lifecourse and diversity issues, including migration, cultural and linguistic diversity, LGBTQI as well as formal, informal, professional, local, distant and virtual support networks.

 

Youth Mobilities

This is an Australian Research Council funded project led by Professor Anita Harris (Deakin), Professor Loretta Baldassar (UWA) and Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson (Western Sydney). The project explores the experiences of transnational mobility amongst young people moving into and out of Australia in order to understand its real-life effects on their economic opportunities, social and family ties, citizenship and transitions to adulthood. It involves a mixed-methods longitudinal study of 2000 young people aged 18-30. Several PhD projects are affiliated with the Youth Mobilities Project, including two at UWA: Giulia Marchetti (Italian youth mobilites) and Johanne Eldridge (UK and African youth mobilities).

 

Internationalisation at Home:

Professor Baldassar has been developing student-led research/teaching opportunities in the area of Internationalisation at Home, building on her experience as the Director of the Monash University Study Abroad Centre in Italy.  University international student programs are commonly understood to foster intercultural learning, transforming students into global citizens with cross-cultural competencies. Similar benefits are anticipated from Internationalisation at Home (IaH), where the presence of international students on campus enriches the lives of domestic students. IaH makes intercultural learning and global citizenship outcomes available to all students. However, it is often assumed that these outcomes will occur as a consequence of ‘just being there’. In practice, domestic and international students often inhabit quite separate worlds, with few opportunities for engagement. Facilitating student engagement and improving students’ experiences on campus is of growing concern across the sector, with best practice literature indicating that structured engagement activities deliver internationalisation outcomes more effectively.

 

Teaching overview

Professor Baldassar initiated migration studies in Anthropology when she became a staff member in 1995. Since then she has contributed to the development of this research and teaching into a core area of expertise at UWA through several initiatives. These include co-founding the Migration, Mobilities and Belonging MoB Network and the WA Migration Research Network (MRN), as well as the funding and appointment of a Cassamarca Lectureship in Italian migration studies.

Professor Baldassar has supervised 5 International Postdoctoral Fellows (funded by Marie Curie Fellowship; Polish Research Foundation; German Research Foundation; Australian Research Council; Forrest Foundation); 30 HDR students (10 current, 20 completions). In 2007 she was awarded a UWA Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision Award and was nominated for this award in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2020. She currently teaches ANTH4101, an advanced qualitative methods unit, linked to the Internatioanlisation at Home project and ANTH2801, Migrants, Refugees and Travellers: Mobility and Immobily in Transnational Lives.

 

Funding overview

Professor Baldassar has over 25 years of qualitative and mixed-method research expertise, including the lead coordination of four major Australian Research Council projects and several large national and international grants.

Professor Baldassar has experience leading large collaborative research projects and research consultancies funded by the Australia Research Council; Australian Academy of Social Sciences; Leverhulme Trust International Network; Commonwealth Department of Human Services; WA Department of Health; WA Department of Communities’ Healthways WA; Lotterywest; Office of Multicultural Interests WA; local councils in WA; and universities. Total Research grants income is over $4.5 million. She has been invited to keynote at over 50 national/international conferences.

 

Roles and responsibilities

* Director, UWA Social Care and Ageing (SAGE) Living Lab

* Editorial Board Member, Regional Editor Australasia, Journal Global Networks

* Board Member, Research Committee Migration, International Sociological Assoc

2017-2018 Deputy Head of School Social Sciences, Community Engagement

2014-2016 Discipline Chair, Anthropology and Sociology, UWA

2012-2014 School Social Sciences, Research Coordinator, UWA

2009-2011 Director, Monash University Study Abroad Centre, Prato, Italy

2007–2009 co-convener Migration, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism Thematic Group of The Australian Sociological Association

2005–2009 Chair, Australasian Centre for Italian Studies

2007– Chair, UWA Press Board

 

Languages

Italian

Research expertise keywords

  • Ageing
  • Australian settler society
  • Ethnicity, race relations, migration and second generation
  • Social uses of new technologies
  • Transnationalism, transnational families
  • Women, gender, sexuality

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