© 2017

Race, Education, and Citizenship

Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration

  • Places mobile Malaysians’ migration geographies in the context of a culture of migration developed alongside the British colonial legacies of race, education, and citizenship

  • Considers the role of race and education has become a key factor in institutionalising mobile Malaysians' migration

  • Shows how legacies of colonialism initiate and propagate migration


Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Sin Yee Koh
    Pages 1-47
  3. Sin Yee Koh
    Pages 107-158
  4. Sin Yee Koh
    Pages 189-222
  5. Sin Yee Koh
    Pages 223-254
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 277-293

About this book


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 post-colonialism studies.


Transnational migration Education-induced skilled migration Postcolonialism and race The United Kingdom and Colonial legacies in Asia Education and migration Citizenship and migration Malaysian migration and Ethnicity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Universiti Brunei DarussalamBandar Seri BegawanBrunei Darussalam

About the authors

Sin Yee Koh is Assistant Professor of Geography at the Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei. Her research, positioned at the intersection of migration studies and urban studies, is informed by three areas of interest: (1) postcolonial geography; (2) migration/mobilities and citizenship; and (3) urbanization, inequality and social change.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Race, Education, and Citizenship
  • Book Subtitle Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration
  • Authors Sin Yee Koh
  • Series Title Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship
  • Series Abbreviated Title Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-50343-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-69989-6
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-50344-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 293
  • Number of Illustrations 24 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Migration
    Sociology of Education
    Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“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, postcolonial and Malaysian studies. Beyond its academic and policy contributions, Koh’s book will be of special interest to mobile Malaysians and other postcolonial migrants as it opens up a space for nostalgia, reflexivity and affirmation along various stages of the migration trajectory.” (I Lin Sin, Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration, October, 2018)

“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. … 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.” (Fawzia Haeri Mazanderani, LSE Review of Books,, July, 2018)

“This is a commendably bold and critical book—critical of both British colonial policies and contemporary policies pursued by the Malaysian state. … ” (Johanna L. Waters, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, May, 2018)