(Un)caring infrastructures: Mapping care and support for international studentsduring COVID-19

Presenters: Earvin Charles Cabalquinto, Benjamin Hanckel, Natalie A. Hendry
Authors and Affiliations:
Earvin Charles Cabalquinto, Deakin University; Benjamin Hanckel, Western Sydney University; Natalie A. Hendry, RMIT University; Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath, Western Sydney University

International students include more than 600000 people across Australia (Department of Education Skills and Employment, 2020). Many of these students have experienced significant impacts related to the COVID-19 crisis, and report heightened experiences of racism and xenophobia. In this paper, we examine the institutional responses that have emerged for these international students during the pandemic. We draw on Mol et al’s (2015) work on the complexity of care enacted through ecosystems to examine pandemic care as socio-historically situated care, embedded within and related to existing migration histories as well as public health practice. Using a comparative case study approach, we interrogate the discourses and representations of care and support that have emerged across the digital institutional messaging and digital practices aimed at international students. We argue that these work alongside other discourses and practices to produce “imaginaries of care” that produce complex “care infrastructures” that aim to support all international students. These emerge through an assemblage of
digital objects that are framed to provide support. We argue these care(ful) infrastructures situate and enact a provision of care that assumes certain characteristics of international students, for instance, economic and digital literacy. These infrastructures are produced within institutional frameworks of care that primarily attend to legal and commercial obligations, and can be viewed as part of the broader Australian migration project (Lin et al. 2017). We interrogate these processes and ask about the (im)possibilities of (care)ful infrastructures and who is cared for as these have been enacted. 

Department of Education Skills and Employment. 2020. International Student Data – monthly summary [Online]. https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-
. [Accessed 12 June 2020].

Doughney, J. 2020. Without international students, Australia’s universities will downsize – and some might collapse altogether [Online]. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/without- international-students-australias-universities-will-downsize-and-some-might-collapse-altogether-132869.  [Accessed 27 June 2020].

Lin, W., Yeoh, B.S.A., Lindquist, J. & Xiang, B. 2017. Migration infrastructures and the production of migrant mobilities. Mobilities, 12, 167-174.

Mol, A., Moser, I. & Pols, J. 2015. Care in Practice: On Tinkering in Clinics, Homes and Farms, Bielefeld, Verlag.

About Authors

Earvin Charles Cabalquinto

Affiliation/s: Deakin University
Email: earvin.cabalquinto@deakin.edu.au

Dr. Cabalquinto is a Lecturer in Communication in the School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA) at Deakin University. He is also a member of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization. His research interests include transnational communication, mobile intimacy, mediated caregiving, digital belonging, regimes of cross-border mobilities, and the politics of mediated mobilities.

Benjamin Hanckel

Affiliation/s: Western Sydney University
Email: b.hanckel@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Benjamin Hanckel is a sociologist and Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Benjamin’s research examines youth health and wellbeing, social inequalities in health, and social change. His work has examined the design and use of digital technologies for health, and health intervention implementation, particularly in relation to the lived experiences of young people.

Natalie A. Hendry

Affiliation/s: RMIT University
Email: natalie.hendry@rmit.edu.au

Natalie Ann Hendry is a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Media and Communication. Her research explores everyday social media and digital technology practices in the context of critical approaches to education, mental health, media, wellbeing, youth studies and policy. This draws on her experience prior to academia, working in community education, secondary schools and hospital settings, and consulting for health organisations and industry.

Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath

Affiliation/s: Western Sydney University
Email: j.musthafa@westernsydney.edu.au

Jasbeer Musthafa Mamalipurath recently completed his PhD in Cultural Studies from the Institute for Society and Culture (ICS), Western Sydney University, Australia. Jasbeer’s current research project is on ‘Conceptualisation of Discourse about Islam on a Secular Platform’ – a study aimed at yielding insight into the emerging discourses about Islam and its identities and characteristics. He has a post-graduate degree in Communication Studies from Bangalore University, India, and over ten years of experience working in communications and research sector. Jasbeer has worked on numerous projects including the ‘Australian Cultural Field’ (ARC Discovery Project) as a research assistant. Jasbeer’s research interests are on religion and culture, communication studies, media and culture, media and religion, minority religious communities, vernacular religions, communication, discourse analysis, sociology of religion, popular culture and religion, religious communities and culture.

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