Away From Home

Tammy Law
Photographer based in Brisbane

A projection of a boy on a swing on a playground erected by NGO ‘Right to Play’ in the refugee camp of Mae La on the Thai Burma Border. This image has been projected onto a driveway in Brisbane, Australia where a refugee family now resides. QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – July 2015.



A projection of children playing inside a cave that is located inside Mae La refugee camp. The image has been projected onto a resettled family home in Brisbane. QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – July 2015.



A projection of a couple at Inya Lake in Yangon, a popular recreational spot for locals in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar). This image has been projected onto a home where a family from Yangon now resides in Victoria, Australia. VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, 2016.
A projection of a river crossing near Mae Sot, Thailand close to where the largest refugee camp on the Thai Burma border (Mae La refugee camp). This image has been projected onto the shed of a family that now resides in Brisbane, Australia. One of the children explained that homes in the camp are not much bigger than the size of the shed pictured. QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, 2016.
A projection of a young boy in Tham Hin refugee camp on the Thai Burma Border projected onto a home where a family from Yangon now resides in rural Victoria, Australia. VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, 2016.
A projection of fishing families in Myanmar. This image has been projected onto the side of a house where a woman and her nephew stand outside their home in Brisbane, Australia. Fish is a staple of the Burmese diet and many who have resettled have told stories of getting caught fishing illegally fishing in newly settled areas as it can be difficult to navigate the local rules and regulations. QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - September 2015.
A woman in Mawlamyine, Burma (Myanmar) stands by a projection of her son who has resettled in Victoria, Melbourne. MAWLAMYINE, BURMA (MYANMAR) – November 2015.
A projection of the inside of a house in Mae La refugee camp. This ‘temporary’ camp was established in 1984 and currently still holds over 50,000 refugees. This image has been projected onto the home of a well established Karen family now residing in Brisbane.QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, 2016.
A projection of children crossing zones in Mae La refugee camp on the fence line between two neighbourhood homes in suburban Victoria. VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA - August 2015.
A projection of Karen State, Burma (Myanmar) on the side of a resettled family home in Brisbane, Australia. The Karen are the largest ethnic minority group in Burma (Myanmar). QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, 2016.
A projection of a man crossing from Thailand to Burma (Myanmar) to ferry goods over to an internally displaced people’s camp. The internally displaced cannot legally resettle in any country without formal identification documentation. Many reside on the border of Burma and Thailand in order to escape war torn areas inside Burma (Myanmar). This image has been projected onto the side of a resettled family home in Brisbane. QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, 2016.

Implanted within my memory is my experience of being a child of Chinese migrants and the bubble of Asian/Australianess within which I live. My travels to Asia, mostly through Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma and the differences between Asia and the West act as catalysts for my interrogation of transnational mobility. The profound sense of ‘disconnection or unhomeliness’ arising from my experience as an Asian Australian grew with me. I knew that our family was different to the majority of families who were living on the Sunshine Coast at the time. It was a turbulent political moment in Australia’s migration politics and there was tension between my mother and her siblings visiting from Hong Kong. Her siblings wanted to resettle in Australia but because of the strict migratory laws at the time it wasn’t an option. They overstayed their Visa’s and my mother was forced to shelter them but the authorities were alerted and they were sent back to Hong Kong. I began to observe the deterioration of the relationships between my parents and the family they had left behind both geographically and metaphorically. As a young child I was oblivious to the complexity behind that displacement and the emotional, psychological and physical dislocation that occurred within the family.

My story is not unique. Mass movements of people across the globe have been an important feature of world history. There are countless numbers of families who live between a place of home and homelessness, belonging and displacement. Away From Home (2015-2017) engages in these ideas through the exploration of lived experiences of displacement through the perspectives of transnational family members from Burma living in Australia and America. My attitudes and understanding of migration and diaspora have been influenced through my family’s long history of dispersal to different parts of the world. As anthropologist, Lok Siu writes, ‘it has made me more attuned to the messiness, unevenness and meaningfulness of migration’. As a result of these early experiences, I developed some sense of what it means to be displaced, living at home and away from home at the same time.

Public Story
Away From Home
Copyright tammy law 2021
Updated 06/22/21
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