Multiple mobilities and entrepreneurial modalities among Chinese marriage migrants in Malaysia

Melody C.W. Lu*, Juan Zhang, Heng Leng Chee, Brenda S.A. Yeoh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This research focuses on the migration trajectories of mainland Chinese women marriage migrants in Malaysia. It finds that their migratory motivations and pathways reveal formerly overlooked mobility patterns that depart from the institutionally organized, commercially arranged, or kinship and social network-mediated migration patterns. The authors argue that the state’s attempts to grow its regulatory capacity, the increasing ‘cost’ of legality and the multiplying of illegal-but-licit spaces through which migrants can navigate produce particular forms of mobile subjectivities which the authors broadly term ‘entrepreneurial’. The aim in this article is to begin to fill this gap in scholarship on entrepreneurialism and feminized migration with an ethnographic study of these gendered entrepreneurial strategies. The authors propose two interlinked concepts in vernacular Chinese – ‘out’ (chu出) and ‘through’ (zuan钻) – as a set of lenses to examine the marriage migrants’ variable motivations, their non-linear paths to upward and outward mobility, their careful negotiations and manoeuvring across and within state boundaries, and gender politics in intimate relations. This presents a more nuanced way of framing migrants’ mobile subjectivities as produced by a contextualized understanding of human agency operating within the particular conditions of Asia’s migration regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-429
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Chinese migrants
  • entrepreneurialism
  • Malaysia
  • marriage migration
  • migration patterns and regimes
  • mobile subjectivity


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