Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Asian Migration in the Modern World
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of different kinds of cross-border human migration in modern East and Southeast Asia, and of how and why migrant communities were formed and developed up to WW2, and subsequently transformed and adapted in the post-war era.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the relation between migrant communities and their host and/or home societies, and the increasing impact of globalization on transnational mobility.
3. Evaluate the transformation of the notion of borders in modern Asia, and its significance in understanding human migration.
4. Critically engage with historiographies and recent scholarly debates on key concepts relating to migration and diaspora, borderlands and frontier, and colonialism, post-colonialism and globalisation in the context of East and Southeast Asia.
5. Read and evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources relating to East and Southeast Asia and conduct in-depth analyses of certain aspects of cross-border human migration.


This module traces many forms of cross-border human migration to, from, and within regions of East and Southeast Asia from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Students with an interest in modern Asia, migration or global connections will be able to pursue these themes by looking at several exemplary cases along with evolving ideas on border, frontier and nation, key ideas that remain relevant to contemporary debates today. The module adds to the choice for students on the Modern and Contemporary History (V191) degree scheme and adds a greater extra-European dimension to our provision.

Brief description

This module follows the historical development of cross-border human migration to, from, and within regions of East and Southeast Asia between the nineteenth century and the present day. It explores questions such as why people left their homelands and moved to other places, how they coped in an unfamiliar environment, and what their relationship was with the ancestral lands. Meanwhile, the module posits the mobility of people in relation to the changing notions of border, frontier and nation that form an integrated part of Asian modernisation over the last two centuries. In a broadly chronological order, we explore the formation of migrant communities in colonies and countries, their special experience under Japanese occupation during World War Two, and post-war ethnic tensions, communal conflicts, and displacement and integration. We also consider contemporary issues of remigration and return migration, and recent developments for a global migration with digital media.


1. Introduction: Asian migration in the regional and global context
2. Borderlands and cross-border mobility in pre-modern Asia
3. Indentured and free labour in the age of empire
4. Ethnic quarters in port cities and colonial settlements
5. ‘Yellow peril’ or ‘empire builders’?
6. Transnational network: religious practice
7. Transnational network: grassroots associations
8. Pan-Asianism and other travelling ideas
9. A moment of crisis: Asian migrants in WW2
10. Redefining borders in post-war Asia
11. Divided nations and war refugees
12. Communal conflicts and violence
13. New citizenship, old language
14. Diasporic literature: a self-reassessment
15. Multiple identities and cultural inclusiveness in a post-Cold War world
16. Re-migration and returning migrants
17. A global community without borders?
18. Review: borders, frontier and mobility in a changing world


1. Location 1: Colonial Southeast Asian port cities
2. Location 2: Manchuria before the Second World War
3. Location 3: Japanese in Latin America before the Second World War
4. The evolving ideas of frontier at the heart of Asian highlands
5. Post-war group 1: British Chinese through objects, material culture and multimedia records
6. Post-war group 2: “Boat People” in writings and films

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be introduced to data in the form of tables and figures and a range of quantitative data, which will require some degree of interpretation and understanding.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop knowledge of the historical trajectory of a key subject in modern history and contemporary society (cross-border human migration). Students will also develop ability to identify and assess primary sources, and apply comparative approaches.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6