What role do transnational networks and mobile citizens of the South Sudanese community play in Australia and South Sudan? The report “The role of transnational networks and mobile citizens in South Sudan’s global community. A pilot study focused on Melbourne and Juba” is a collaboration between University of Juba and Monash University, which sets out initial research on the collective and transnational impact of the South Sudanese-Australian community on South Sudan.

Decades of civil war have created considerable networks of families and communities around the world, a constant flux of people returning to and from South Sudan. These networks are central to South Sudan’s political evolution, and the study investigates them from multiple perspectives: economic implications and allocation of remittance patterns, right to political engagement in South Sudan, access to information, and use of media.

The study problematizes the role of international migration and diaspora networks. On one hand they have been fundamental to the formation of the South Sudanese state. However, since they are locked out from the national political scenario and their broader trust is broken down, diaspora networks might undermine political responsibility and civic order on a local and national level, bypassing formal government structures. These networks usually run through kinship, ethnic solidarity and political tribalism, thus breaking down broader trust, mutual support, communication and possibilities for a collective action.

Nonetheless, a better understanding of these dynamics can be helpful in exploring alternative pathways for dialogue and debate in future nation- and peace-building processes as well as and reconciliation efforts.
The research has adopted a holistic approach to analyse the dynamics of the South Sudanese community through transnational lenses and critically studied the influence of transnational actors, dual nationals or those with residential status abroad (e.g. political and military elites and community in their locations of displacement) as well as the nature of their engagement.

Research in Juba was carried out by a team from the University of Juba, co-led by Rebecca Lorins and Gabriel Kiir. The project ran a series of focus groups, a 200-person survey, and a series of interviews with South Sudanese-Australian residents, government workers, money transfer agents, journalists and church members. In Australia, Sara Maher and Santino Deng convened cross-representative South Sudanese-Australian focus groups at Monash University Melbourne, to reflect on the findings of the research in Juba.

Click here to read the full report.

Dr Sara Maher (Monash Migration & Inclusion Centre) and Dr Santino Atem Deng (Researcher, Community leader & counsellor) from the SSDIP team will present at the two-day international conference Diasporas in Action: Working together for peace, development and humanitarian response on 26 and 27 September 2018 at University of Melbourne. Do not miss out on the opportunity to join the discussion!

For more information, please visit: http://www.diasporasinaction.org.au.