Community, Migration and Development

Federal Elections campaigning outside Desa Mentari flats, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, April 2008.

How do communities shape, and how are they shaped by processes of globalization and the use of information and communication technologies?

The study of communities is vital to understanding how cities can sustain themselves, given their unprecedented global growth. It is critical to think of community as a constant process of formation and reformation in response to ever-changing local and global conditions. We are increasingly interested in diasporic communities in the Asia-Pacific region and their influence on national identities and the changing nature of citizenship.

Research focus

The focus on communities connects lived urban experience and the traditional study of urbanisation which draws on demography, urban planning, infrastructure and development, transportation and affordable housing, environmental politics and citizenship. By reinvigorating the study of community formation and adaptation within changing city environments, particularly in the ‘global south’, we aim to establish a new theoretical and methodological agenda for addressing the big social challenges of city life.

Description of program

The program offers an important opportunity to rethink the question of community sustainability at local, national and international levels from multi-disciplinary perspectives; and aims to establish new theoretical and methodological agendas for addressing the social challenges of city from the perspective of the Global North as well as the Global South.

Research themes   

The overarching focus of the program is to study factors that influence, shape and mould our communities.

1. Negotiating the local global
This theme’s foci is on studying localities around the globe, seeking to determine if, why and how communities are negotiating transformations across the complex layers of social life from the local to the global; whilst addressing questions of the theoretical framing of cosmopolitanism, community or locally embedded social interaction, transnationalism and indicators of community sustainability. The research is engaged with multiple communities, ranging from the urban to the rural, and from those embedded in face-to-face communities to those which are closely integrated into global flows of exchange and information.  Research sites include Melbourne and regional Victoria, nationally around  Australia and globally, with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific Region.

2. Building communities
In recent literature, there is a noticeable ‘turn’ to community in the context of global flux and uncertainty. Yet the word ‘community’ is often abused and it is often impossible to translate into languages other than English. This theme addresses the need for a more dynamic and normative conception of what the search for community represents. A foregrounding of the search for community in conditions of systemic uncertainty can help to challenge parochial and divisive claims about the character and identity of any particular local community and this, in turn, can give substance to rhetoric about ‘social inclusion’. This theme seeks to examine and contribute to understand contemporary and alternate ways of thinking about the formation of urban communities in the context of globalization.

3. Globalization, money and community
This theme recognises the transnational dimensions of community and the importance of personal and community remittances to the lived experience of migrants in cities. Key projects in this area address theoretical and methodological perspectives that link the macro-study of economic globalization with its lived experience at the community and personal levels; and examine the importance of transnational personal and community ties in global cities that co-exist with these relationships
in the host country.

4. Civic repair

This area deals with questions related to community wellbeing and governance from local to national levels and the intractable problem of homelessness in Australia. Projects in this area includes fault lines of violence, homelessness, planning and social impacts of local natural and built environments and urban inequalities and marginalization.


For more information on CMDP, please contact the Program Managers, Supriya Singh and Shahadat Khan.