Monographs & Books


Koh, S.Y. (2017) Race, Education and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘Migration, Diasporas, and Citizenship’ Series.

Transnational skilled migrants are often thought of as privileged migrants with flexible citizenship. This book challenges this assumption by examining the diverse migration trajectories, experiences and dilemmas faced by tertiary-educated mobile Malaysian migrants. It argues that mobile Malaysians’ culture of migration can be understood as an outcome and consequence of British colonial legacies – of race, education, and citizenship – inherited and exacerbated by the post-colonial Malaysian state. Drawing from archival research and interviews with respondents in Singapore, United Kingdom, and Malaysia, this book examines how mobile Malaysians make sense of their migration lives, and contextualizes their stories to the broader socio-political structures in colonial Malaya and post-colonial Malaysia. Showing how legacies of colonialism initiate, facilitate, and propagate migration in a multi-ethnic, post-colonial migrant-sending country beyond the end of colonial rule, this text is a key read for scholars of migration, citizenship, ethnicity, nationalism and postcolonialism.


Race, Education and Citizenship offers a study of the migratory trajectories of tertiary-educated mobile Malaysian migrants and explores how the legacies of colonialism continue to impact upon the meanings of race, education and citizenship in this context. Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani strongly recommended this book to scholars interested in conceptualising migration and citizenship practices through a postcolonial lens.

This is a commendably bold and critical book—critical of both British colonial policies and contemporary policies pursued by the Malaysian state.

There are clearly elements of what Koh describes that could be considered ‘flexible citizenship’ (and education) strategies. But what the book does best of all, consistently and from start to finish, is refuse to generalize; it eschews easy caricatures and sweeping conceptual moves in favour of grounded empirical detail. It still manages to ‘be theoretical’, but in a measured and appropriate way that does justice to a very complex geographical region with differentiated and stratified social realities.

Koh’s book takes a critical and insightful look at the often unspoken and taken-for-granted interlinkages between race, education and citizenship in relation to migration among Malaysians. Underlying the book is a relatively novel postcolonial approach to migration that is grounded on local experiences but that moves away from the usual colonial blaming for deep-seated structural inequalities in the postcolonial migrant-sending state. Instead, Koh offers a balanced and contextual account of the intertwining of British colonial legacies and post-colonial state influences in the framing of race-stratified and primarily education-led migration among Malaysians.

Koh’s book provides a wealth of theoretical, empirical and contextual information that would be of value and appeal to a wide readership within and beyond migration, citizenship, post- colonial and Malaysian studies.

This book challenges existing literature on skilled migration and flexible citizenship by showing how such migration may be racialised and by highlighting the need to conceptualise migration and citizenship practices historically. Koh’s analysis shows how race as a colonial legacy initiates and is in turn perpetuated by mobile Malaysians’ culture of migration. The post-colonial approach she adopts makes a novel contribution to the fields of migration studies and geography in that it demonstrates how ‘the real impact of colonial legacies lies in the internalised understandings about race, education and citizenship that continue to define the behaviours of generations after the end of the colonial period’ (218). I strongly recommend this book for scholars interested in post-colonial studies, migration, citizenship and race, as well as anyone looking for a more nuanced insight into the formation of contemporary Malaysia.


Forrest, R., Koh, S.Y., & Wissink, B. (Eds.) (2017) Cities and the Super-Rich: Real Estate, Elite Practices and Urban Political Economies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘The Contemporary City’ Series.

With the rise of wealth inequalities, our cities are changing dramatically. This collection critically engages with and advances existing debates on the super-rich and their roles in these transformations.  An interdisciplinary range of contributions from international experts including sociologists, geographers, historians, discourse analysts, and urban studies specialists reveal crucial aspects of the real estate investment practices of the super-rich, their social spaces in the city as well as the distinct influence of the super-rich on the transformation of four key cities: London, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. By drawing together diverse disciplines, perspectives, and experiences across different geographical contexts, this book offers a fresh, comparative, and nuanced take on the super-rich and the 1% city, as well as a solid, empirically and theoretically grounded basis to think about future research questions and policy implications.


Chan, Y.W. & Koh, S.Y. (Eds.) (2018) New Chinese Migrations: Mobility, Home, and Inspirations. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge. ‘Routledge Series on Asian Migration’.

With the rapid economic development of China and the overall shift in the global political economy, there is now the emergence of new Chinese on the move. These new Chinese migrants and diasporas are pioneers in the establishment of multiple homes in new geographical locations, the development of new (global and hybrid) Chinese identities, and the creation of new (political, economic and social) inspirations through their mobile lives.

This book identifies and examines new forms and paths of Chinese migration since the 1980s. It provides updated trends of migration movements of the Chinese, including their emergent geographies. With chapters highlighting the diversities and complexities of these new waves of Chinese migration, this volume offers novel insights to enrich our understanding of Asian mobility in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The book will be of interest to academics examining migration, mobility, diaspora, Chinese identity, overseas Chinese studies and Asian diaspora studies.


New Chinese Migrations: Mobility, Home, and Inspirations draws on many detailed studies to initiate academic explorations of new conceptualisations about contemporary elite Chinese migration in Asia. The ambitious selection of research on various types of Chinese migration and mobilities offers readers insights into new aspects of transnational and circular migration of resourceful migrants from China and Greater China within Asia. And in so doing, these chapters make a nice contribution for scholars engaged with Chinese overseas, as well as those interested in migration and mobility more generally.

…this is an informative study that presents a mosaic of new Chinese mobility pathways, where mobility is mainly analysed in terms of how it contributes to the redefinition and (re)production of individual and group identities. The greatest value of this book lies in the wealth of ethnographic accounts and enlivening individual narratives that provide fresh perspectives on (mainly inter-Asian) mobilities.

New Chinese Migrations is a timely recalibration of Chinese diaspora studies.

The book … makes a commendable contribution to knowledge on new Chinese migration movements and Chinese diasporas.

New Chinese Migrations: Mobility, Home and Inspirations is an important and timely volume that captures recent scholarship on the Chinese diaspora, or as editors Yuk Wah Chan and Sin Kee Yoh insist, on Chinese diasporas (in the plural). … the volume makes an important contribution to the temporal and cultural aspect of current diaspora research. The emphasis on a dichotomy between new and old facilitates new avenues of inquiry into the intersections and connections between various communities, apart from the well-documented relations with the homeland.


Rogers, D., & Koh, S.Y. (Eds.) (2018) The Globalisation of Real Estate: The Politics and Practice of Foreign Real Estate Investment. Routledge.

Individual foreign investment in residential real estate by new middle-class and super-rich investors is re-emerging as a key issue in academic, policy and public debates around the world. At its most abstract, global real estate is increasingly thought of a liquid asset class that is targeted by foreign individual investors who are seeking to diversify their investment portfolios. But foreign investors are also motivated by intergenerational familial security, transnational migration strategies, and short-term educational plans, which are all closely entwined with global real estate investment. Government and local public responses to the latest manifestation of global real estate investment have taken different forms. These range from pro-foreign investment, primarily justified on geopolitical and macro-economic grounds, to anti-foreign investment for reasons such as mitigating public dissent and protecting the local housing market. Within this changing geopolitical context, this book offers a diverse range of case studies from Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia, Australia and Korea. It will be of interest to academics, policymakers, and university students who are interested in the globalisation of local real estate. The chapters in this book originally published in International Journal of Housing Policy.


If globalised investment flows kill the golden goose of living cities, we are all worse off. This book offers an insightful primer on the evolving politics and complex practice of this phenomenon.