Post-migration adaptation has been a major theme in migration studies. Yet extant research has typically focused on immigrants who will presumably settle in the host society and overlooked temporary migrants, especially those who move in later life. While the former is expected to assimilate into the host society over time, temporary migrants spend limited and intermittent periods of time in the host society only. The normative frameworks of migrant adaptation are, therefore, inadequate for analyzing the experience of older temporary migrants. Drawing on ethnographic data collected from 41 Chinese grandparenting migrants in Singapore, this article uses temporariness as a central analytic lens to examine their post-migration adaption experience, including their attitudes towards their temporary presence in the host country, the constraints they encountered, and the strategies they used to cope with such experiences. We introduce the concepts of “objective temporariness” and “subjective temporariness” to illustrate how the duration of stay allowed by the host state and migrants’ feelings towards their temporary presence respectively affect migrants’ intentions and ability to adapt to the new environment. Conceptualizing temporariness as a continuum, we show how diverse forms of temporariness (transient versus extended) have differentially shaped the adaptation patterns of short-term stayers (staying one to three months each time) and long-term stayers (staying at least a year or more). Our findings underscore the importance of analyzing the temporal alongside the spatial when examining temporariness as a condition experienced by older temporary migrants and as an instrumental tool used by nation-states to regulate migrant populations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Singapore, (grant number MOET2017-T2-019) and LU Research Seed Fund 102373.
© The Author(s) 2022.
- migrant adaptation
- temporary migration
- transnational grandparenting