1st Edition

The Cultural Politics of Talent Migration in East Asia

Edited By Brenda Yeoh, Shirlena Huang Copyright 2013
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge


    As the world globalises, more people than ever are on the move, including the many professional, managerial and entrepreneurial elites—often referred to as ‘international talent’—who circulate between cities in response to career and business opportunities. While much has been written about the economic motivations behind these mobilities, less is known about the everyday experiences and encounters of highly skilled transnational migrants, who, with the rise of Asia as an economic powerhouse and cultural magnet, are not only increasingly Asian in composition but also rapidly attracted to the globalising cities in Asia. The book demonstrates how the migratory moves of transnational elites are not only implicated in the reality of multiple belongings, but are also intertwined with the broader cultural politics of specific places. By exploring the interfaces of contact and their diverse subjectivities from race and gender to class and nationality, this collection as a whole—with papers examining talent moving among cities in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Britain and Canada—paints a decidedly complex picture of how talented migrants inhabit the world in ‘more-than-rational’ ways. Through the lens of the everyday, this book uncovers the ways in which ‘cosmopolitanisms’ are forged in uneven and contested ways in different localities, as well as offer new insights into cities as transnational spaces of encounter in the 21st century.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    1. Introduction: Fluidity and Friction in Talent Migration Brenda S. A. Yeoh and Shirlena Huang, National University of Singapore, Singapore

    2. Cosmopolitanism at Work: Labour Market Exclusion in Singapore's Financial Sector Junjia Ye, Max Planck Gesellschaft, Germany and Philip F. Kelly, York University Toronto, Canada

    3. Servicing British Expatriate "Talent" in Singapore: Exploring Ordinary Transnationalism and the Role of the Expatriate Club Jonathan V. Beaverstock, University of Nottingham, UK

    4. Identity Politics and Cultural Asymmetries: Singaporean Transmigrants ‘Fashioning’ Cosmopolitanism Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, National University of Singapore, Singapore

    5. Singaporean and British Transmigrants in China and the Cultural Politics of ‘Contact Zones’ Brenda S. A. Yeoh, National University of Singapore, Singapore and Katie Willis, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

    6. Global Nightscapes in Shanghai as Ethnosexual Contact Zones James Farrer, Sophia University Tokyo, Japan

    7. Shanghai Rush: Skilled Migrants in a Fantasy City Yen-Fen Tseng, National Taiwan University,Taiwan

    8. Making Careers in the Occupational Niche: Chinese Students in Corporate Japan's Transnational Business Gracia Liu-Farrer, Waseda University, Japan

    9. ‘The Moon Back Home is Brighter’?: Return Migration and the Cultural Politics of Belonging Sin YihTeo, University of British Columbia, Canada

    10. A Ritual Economy of ‘Talent’: China and Overseas Chinese Professionals Xiang Biao, University of Oxford, UK


    Brenda S.A. Yeoh is Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, and Research Leader of the Asian Migration Cluster at NUS’ Asia Research Institute. Her research interests include the politics of space in colonial and postcolonial cities; and gender and transnational migration in Asia.

    Shirlena Huang is Associate Professor, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. Her research focuses on gender and migration (particularly within the Asia-Pacific region) in the contexts of carework, transnational families and religion, as well as urbanization and heritage conservation.