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Crossing Frontiers: Race, Migration and Borders in Southeast Asia

Author(s): Amarjit Kaur

Journal: International Journal of Multicultural Societies
ISSN 1817-4574

Volume: 6;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 202;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: Asia Pacific migration | migration policies | Southeast Asia migration | labour migration

Transnational labour migration has been a dominant feature ofSoutheast Asian labour history since the 1870s, affecting those whomoved, and impacting on host communities. Moreover, until about the1940s, borders were porous and migration was largely unrestricted,consistent with colonial migration goals and the region’sdemographics. Since the 1970s, however, labour migration in theregion has become more diversified, and consists predominantly ofintra-Southeast Asian flows. Migration goals have also changed andcoincide with state polices that emphasise the nationality, race,geographical origins, gender, skills and occupation of migrants. Freemigration has thus given way to institutionalised and restrictedmigration 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 andentrepreneurs providing all sorts of services to migrant workers inexchange for fees.

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