Crossing Frontiers: Race, Migration and Borders in Southeast Asia

Amarjit Kaur

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Transnational labour migration has been a dominant feature of Southeast Asian labour history since the 1870s, affecting those who moved, and impacting on host communities. Moreover, until about the 1940s, borders were porous and migration was largely unrestricted, consistent with colonial migration goals and the region’s demographics. Since the 1970s, however, labour migration in the region has become more diversified, and consists predominantly of intra-Southeast Asian flows. Migration goals have also changed and coincide with state polices that emphasise the nationality, race, geographical origins, gender, skills and occupation of migrants. Free migration has thus given way to institutionalised and restricted migration policies that include stringent border controls and internal enforcement measures. Crucially, a sharp increase in labour mobility has coincided with the development of a migration industry and the emergence of officially-sanctioned recruitment agencies and entrepreneurs providing all sorts of services to migrant workers in exchange for fees.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Kaur, Amarjit. Crossing Frontiers: Race, Migration and Borders in Southeast Asia. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2004, vol. 6, no.2, pp. 202-223. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

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