Implanted within my memory is my experience of being a child of Chinese migrants and the bubble of Asian/Australianess within which I live. My travels to Asia, mostly through Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma and the differences between Asia and the West act as catalysts for my interrogation of transnational mobility. The profound sense of ‘disconnection or unhomeliness’ arising from my experience as an Asian Australian grew with me. I knew that our family was different to the majority of families who were living on the Sunshine Coast at the time. It was a turbulent political moment in Australia’s migration politics and there was tension between my mother and her siblings visiting from Hong Kong. Her siblings wanted to resettle in Australia but because of the strict migratory laws at the time it wasn’t an option. They overstayed their Visa’s and my mother was forced to shelter them but the authorities were alerted and they were sent back to Hong Kong. I began to observe the deterioration of the relationships between my parents and the family they had left behind both geographically and metaphorically. As a young child I was oblivious to the complexity behind that displacement and the emotional, psychological and physical dislocation that occurred within the family.
My story is not unique. Mass movements of people across the globe have been an important feature of world history. There are countless numbers of families who live between a place of home and homelessness, belonging and displacement. Away From Home (2015-2017) engages in these ideas through the exploration of lived experiences of displacement through the perspectives of transnational family members from Burma living in Australia and America. My attitudes and understanding of migration and diaspora have been influenced through my family’s long history of dispersal to different parts of the world. As anthropologist, Lok Siu writes, ‘it has made me more attuned to the messiness, unevenness and meaningfulness of migration’. As a result of these early experiences, I developed some sense of what it means to be displaced, living at home and away from home at the same time.