Global Asia

Transnational Migration and Asia: The Question of Return

Most migrants are intimately familiar with the question of return. But what does it mean to ‘return’ and how do migrants engage with the question over time? These are questions this volume puts forward by focusing on the case of different groups of Asia migrants – temporary and permanent; voluntary and forced; international and internal; skilled and unskilled; and those that fall in in-between categories. How do they strategize towards, discuss, negotiate and perhaps also avoid the question? The ethnographic and historical case studies presented in Transnational Migration and Asia: The Question of Return take a migrant-centred approach in that they examine the question from the perspective of the migrants themselves. In doing so, they differ considerably from other studies which explore ‘return’ mostly as a traceable and/or predictable flow or process that requires and thus also provides clear-cut answers. Case studies include: Burmese-Rohingya refugees in Pakistan; Filipina dependent students in Ireland; highly-skilled Indian returnees from the US; relocated Vietnamese in Vietnam; transmigrants in-between Japan and Brazil; and Vietnamese student migrants in France during colonial times.

Michiel Baas is research fellow with the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore. He has published extensively on the topic of migration and transnationalism, in particular in relation to the emerging Indian middle class and the flow of student-migrants from India to Australia.


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