ICAS9 CFP (Extended to 20 Oct): Migration, Citizenship, and Mobilities in Asia and the Pacific – Postcolonial Perspectives

Since the proposal submission deadline has been extended to 30 October, I am re-opening the call for papers for this panel. Hopefully there is sufficient interest to form an additional panel – or more. The panel I have submitted has papers on Myanmar, Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand. Papers on other contexts are especially welcome.

Call for Papers: International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) 9, 5-9 July, Adelaide

Panel Title: Migration, Citizenship, and Mobilities in Asia and the Pacific: Postcolonial Perspectives

Convenor: Sin Yee Koh (City University of Hong Kong)

Discussant: Brenda Yeoh (National University of Singapore)

Postcolonialism has been recently reinvigorated as a useful approach to advance existing migration research (McIlwaine, 2008; Mains et al., 2013; Nair, 2013). Postcolonial approaches to migration highlight the continued salience of colonial-institutionalized knowledges, structures and practices in circumscribing migration patterns and experiences for people in/from former colonies. Postcolonial approaches are inherently political and ethical, as they show how “here” and “there”, “past” and “present” are embodied in, and subsequently borne by, the figure of the migrant. Postcolonial migration scholars do so by firstly, paying attention to historical legacies; and secondly, giving voice to marginal and bottom-up perspectives. In sum, postcolonial perspectives accord a more nuanced and locally-grounded understanding of the origins, consequences, and the heterogenous experiences of migration in specific contexts. More importantly, this scholarship calls into question the suitability of Eurocentric theories in application to non-Anglo-Western contexts.

Existing works in this renewed postcolonial migration scholarship have focused on expatriates, ethnic minority migrants, and international student migrants in selected empirical contexts (e.g. Fechter & Walsh, 2010; Raghuram, 2009; Sharpe, 2014; Shin, 2010; Wang, Wong & Zheng, 2013; Yeoh, 2013). This panel extends this emergent debate by focusing on migration, citizenship, and mobilities in Asia and the Pacific – a region that has thus far not received collective attention from postcolonial migration scholars. For a start, many countries in this region were former colonies, and continue to see substantial flows to and from their former empires. Furthermore, migrations in this region are intimately intertwined with postcolonial notions of race, class, gender, citizenship, and diaspora in historically and epistemologically complex ways.

This panel invites papers that creatively address how postcolonial approaches can be usefully employed to analyse migration in Asia and the Pacific. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Colonial legacies and postcolonial migration
  • Migration as postcolonial product (e.g. cultures of migration, migration regimes, migration policies and programmes)
  • Migrants (and migrant bodies) as postcolonial subjects (e.g. othered, racialised, classed, gendered, sexualised)
  • Migration and postcolonial ties between sending and receiving contexts (e.g. power politics and international relations, migration and the development agenda)
  • Migration and postcolonial discourse (e.g. multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, transnationalism)
  • Methodological reflections

While the panel welcomes papers presenting empirical work, the aim is to collectively interrogate the extent to which postcolonial perspectives can challenge, illuminate, and problematise migration in Asia and the Pacific.

Please send an abstract of up to 250 words (including paper title), as well as author affiliation and full contact details, to Sin Yee Koh at sinykoh@cityu.edu.hk by 20 October 2014.


  • Fechter, A.-M., & Walsh, K. (2010). Examining ‘expatriate’ continuities: Postcolonial approaches to mobile professionals. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(8), 1197-1210.
  • Mains, S. P., Gilmartin, M., Cullen, D., Mohammad, R., Tolia-Kelly, D. P., Raghuram, P., & Winders, J. (2013). Postcolonial migrations. Social & Cultural Geography, 14(2), 131-144.
  • McIlwaine, C. (2008). The postcolonial practices of international migration: Latin American migration to London. Paper presented at the ‘Building on postcolonial economies: Making connections and developing pedagogies’ seminar, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University.
  • Nair, P. (2013). Postcolonial theories of migration. In I. Ness (Ed.), The encyclopedia of global human migration (Vol. IV Ind-Rem, pp. 2452-2459): Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  • Raghuram, P. (2009). Caring about ‘brain drain’ migration in a postcolonial world. Geoforum, 40(1), 25-33.
  • Sharpe, M.O. (2014). Postcolonial citizens and ethnic migration. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Shin, H. (2010). Colonial legacy of ethno-racial inequality in Japan. Theory & Society, 39(3/4), 327-342.
  • Wang, C., Wong, S.-l., & Zheng, V. (2013). Postcolonial border crossing. Asian Population Studies, 10(1), 75-95.
  • Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). ‘Upwards’ or ‘sideways’ cosmopolitanism? Talent/labour/marriage migrations in the globalising city-state of Singapore. Migration Studies, 1(1), 96-116.

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