Fluid Security in the Asia Pacific – Overview

At a time of global and regional insecurity fuelled by economic and terrorism concerns, this project will provide a rigorous evidence base for the Asia Pacific to better manage mobility in a more inclusive way.

This directly fits with understanding our region and the world by providing an evidence base for better understanding of how and why people move throughout the Asia Pacific and their impact and experiences of security.

The conditions of globalization present a considerable challenge to orthodox conceptions of migration and migration control.

In what is often characterised as a “world in motion” (Aas 2007), migrants increasingly operate in trans-national networks of political, social and economic association where loyalties to one nation are ‘conditional’ and unlikely to be as firm as they may have been in previous generations when people migrated for life (Sassen, 2006).

Today, speed and ease of travel, globalised opportunities for work and education, and transnational family networks, as well as an increase in the number of ‘fragile’ or ‘failed’ states mean that cycles of migration, and of return and re-migration are more complex and unpredictable than in previous eras of large-scale migration.

New conceptual tools based on regionsnetworks and fluidity are being adopted by sociologists to describe these emerging social forms which are constituted through mobility (Urry 2007).

These trends are mirrored by fluidity in legal status, so that non-citizens may move back and forth between legality and illegality within a host state (Schuster 2005).

Project objective

The aim of this study is to present a new conception of ‘fluid security’ that enhances understandings of human and national security in the Asia Pacific.

The objective is to increase understanding of the dynamics of security and mobility by exploring the inter-relationships between countries of origin, destination and return in relation to four key domains of human security: economic, legal, personal and socio-cultural.

Based on empirical case studies with mobile populations from China, Indonesia, Samoa and Tonga who are temporarily resident in Australia, it will develop new knowledge and greater understanding of mobility in the region and its impact on the security of individuals, communities and nations in the Asia Pacific, concentrating on four key regional relationships:

  • Australia / Samoa
  • Australia / Tonga
  • Australia / Indonesia
  • Australia / China

Project goals

  • Develop new knowledge and greater understanding of mobility in the region and its impact on the security of individuals, communities and nations in the Asia Pacific.
  • Apply social science methodologies to develop more comprehensive understandings of contemporary mobility and security across four key regional relationships (Australia/Samoa; Australia/Tonga; Australia/Indonesia; Australia/China).
  • Contribute to Australian policy development and debate surrounding the regulation and enforcement of temporary and permanent migration.
  • Contribute to sustaining the local and regional security of Australia and its neighbours.