Accepted Paper:

A staggered journey: migration imaginaries and spatio-temporal suspension of young Chinese temporary migrants in the UK  
Candice Hiu-Yan Yu (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the dialogical interactions between migration imaginaries and suspension in mobilities in the context of temporary migration. Suspension shifts migrants' life focus from the present moments to the imagined future, transforming waiting times into precariousness and opportunities.

Paper long abstract:

This research examines the dialogical interactions between migration imaginaries and suspension in mobilities in the context of two forms of temporary migration among young Chinese migrants to the UK: student migrants and working holiday makers. In this paper, I scrutinise how suspension shifts migrants' life focus from the present moments to the imagined future, and how this process is driven by migrants' aspirations, desires and capacities. I argue that suspension happens on three levels during a temporary migrant's trajectory. Firstly, in the quest for a foreign degree or international work experience, self-inflicted suspension happens when migrants choose to suspend their local networks and career opportunities in their country of origin. Secondly, although migrants may voluntarily suspend some aspects of their lives in order to maximise others for the imagined future, structural constraints imposed by the temporality of migration and visa regime may also forcibly suspend migrants' geographical and social mobility. Thirdly, I focus on migrants' lived experiences to explore how suspension, taking the form of waiting times involved in visa applications and the switching of visas when they expire, has become a normalised aspect of migrants' staggered journeys. Particularly, I look into how suspension and the state of temporariness shape migrants' intimate lives, specifically their short-term love relationships or marriages, transforming waiting times into precariousness in existing relationships, and romance opportunities for singletons. This article contributes to migration studies by providing a fresh understanding of the relationship between imagination and suspension as a part of lived migration experiences.

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Imagination, migration & (im)mobility