PHOTOESSAY: Manus to Meanjin: A case study of refugee migration, polymorphic borders and Australian ‘imperialism’

  • Kasun Ubayasiri Griffith University, Brisbane
Keywords: asylum seekers, Australia, case studies, human rights, human rights journalism, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, photojournalism, polymorphic borders, refugees, research methodologies, storytelling, visual politics, visual storytelling


This non-traditional research article argues that the refugee and asylum-seeker protests in Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point between April 2, 2020 and April 14, 2021 can be viewed against a backdrop of Australian colonialism—where successive Australian governments have used former colonies in Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea as offshore detention facilities—as a dumping ground for asylum-seekers. Within the same context this article argues that the men’s removal to the Kangaroo Point Alternative Place of Detention is a continuation of this colonial policy of incarcerating ‘undesirables’ on occupied land, in this case on Meanjin—Jagera land identified by the colonial name of Brisbane. This extension of Australian sub-imperial and neo-colonial dominion and the imagining of its boundaries is viewed though the theoretical prism of a polymorphic border, a border that shifts and morphs depending on who attempts to cross it. In a departure from orthodox research practice, this article will use visual storytelling drawn from photojournalism praxis alongside more traditional text-based research prose.  In doing so, it will use photo-journalistic artifacts and the visual politics that surround them, as core dialogical components in the presentation of the article as opposed to using them as mere illustrations or props.


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How to Cite
Ubayasiri, K. (2021). PHOTOESSAY: Manus to Meanjin: A case study of refugee migration, polymorphic borders and Australian ‘imperialism’. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 27(1 & 2), 269-282.