Practices of ‘Digital Homing’ and Gendered Reproduction among Older Sinhalese and Karen Migrants in Australia

Raelene Wilding, Shashini Gamage, Shane Worrell, Loretta Baldassar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

The pathway to aging well is not always clear for older migrants living in a foreign country, who must navigate a range of challenges resulting from differences between the cultural expectations of aging in their country of origin and the realities of aging in their country of residence. Transnational migration scholars indicate that digital media are important resources for maintaining relationships and support networks across ‘here’ and ‘there’. They say relatively little, however, about the experiences of maintaining a sense of home, particularly for older migrants. In this paper, we draw on ethnographic interview data with older migrants from Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar), who live in Australia, to examine how their practices of ‘digital homing’ help them to manage the challenges of aging well in a foreign land. Three key findings are proposed. First, older migrants are active and skilled in using digital devices to create spaces of belonging and home. Second, older migrants’ access to and uses of digital media are structured by gendered, ethnic and generational roles, expectations and obligations. Third, the practices of digital homing that enhance migrant experiences of aging well tend to simultaneously reinforce and reproduce gendered inequalities within families and communities. We conclude by arguing that it is the very capacity of digital homing practices to reproduce ethnic and generational selves in host societies that simultaneously contributes to the reproduction of unequal gendered obligations and expectations, including in later life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-232
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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