CFP | Marriage Migration, Family and Citizenship in Asia
Date : 31 Jan 2019 - 01 Feb 2019
Venue : AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC
Download CFP Proposal Form


In recent decades, there has been a marked increase in cross-border marriages in East Asian industrialised economies such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. Marriage migration and the rise of cross-cultural/cross-national families have the potential to challenge the substance, meanings and boundaries of citizenship. Scholars have argued that ‘social citizenship’ cannot simply be read through a singular focus on the legal framework governing citizenship status. Instead, citizenship should be better understood as ‘a terrain of struggle’ (Stasiulis and Bakan, 1997), shaped by state-led as well as socially embedded ideologies of gender, race and class, and negotiated on an everyday basis within public and private spheres. These forms of negotiation are clearly foregrounded in the case of female marriage migrants, as their citizenship is constrained not only by gendered hierarchies central to the patriarchal family, but also the gendered mode of ‘familial citizenship’ upheld by many Asian nation-states, positioning them as wives and dependents of their citizen-husbands. Incorporated into the private sphere of the family as domestic caregivers and socio-biological reproducers, marriage migrants straddle the ambivalent position of being ‘outsiders’ both within the state and the family. Despite their vulnerable status, some marriage migrants expressed agency in claiming and negotiating citizenship entitlements on grounds of their caregiving roles and socio-biological membership of the family. As a result, the family becomes an important site where citizenship as ‘a terrain of struggle’ typically occurs.

Thus far, extant studies have tended to approach citizenship as an individual-centred concept vis-à-vis the nation-state (Lopez, 2015), thus fading the family into the background. This workshop sets out to go beyond the state-individual nexus by bringing the family back into the discussion of marriage migration and citizenship as contested arenas. As the overarching thematic focus, we propose that the family is a strategic site where citizenship is mediated, negotiated and contested. Using the family as the lens to study marriage migration and citizenship, this workshop aims at drawing out the intersections between the individual, the family and the state. Given that the effects of citizenship laws targeting the non-citizen member are likely to spill over to other citizen members (Fix & Zimmerman, 2001), we also call for a re-conceptualization of citizenship to include family-level experience.

In sum, the workshop focuses on families formed out of cross-border marriages as a case in point to examine how the intricate nexus between marriage migration, family and citizenship emerges and develops in the context of inter-regional marriage migration within Asia or in Asian diasporas. We are particularly interested in marriage migration between Asian countries, given the predominant collectivist and familistic norms in the region. This is also an area that has been given less attention in the literature compared to east-west cross-cultural marriages. Questions to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do nation-states mobilize notions of ‘the family’ for its citizenship project and what are the repercussions for different types of families?
  • How does citizenship structure the formation, trajectory and outcomes of families resulted from cross-border marriages?
  • How is one’s citizenship negotiated, adapted, or lived at the family level in the case of cross-border marriages?
  • How is citizenship operated within the family through its non-citizen member, i.e. the marriage migrant and/or their children?
  • What are the tensions between the individual, the family and the state when negotiating citizenship boundaries and how are these tensions produced along gender, generation, racial/ethnic lines?


Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (250 words maximum) and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 31 August 2018. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. The organizers plan to publish a special issue with selected papers presented in this workshop. By participating in the workshop, you agree to participate in the future publication plans of the organizers. Hotel accommodation for three nights and a contribution towards airfare will be provided for accepted paper participants (one author per paper).

Please submit your proposal using the provided template to Ms Tay Minghua at Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 30 September 2018. Participants will be required to send in a completed draft paper (6,000-8,000 words) by 4 January 2019.


Conference Convenors

Dr Tuen Yi Chiu
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
E |

Prof Brenda S.A. Yeoh
Asia Research Institute, and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
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Ms TAY Minghua
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
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Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY