Mobilities on edge

Migration at the margins of nation-states

Authored by: Juan Zhang

Routledge Handbook of Asian Migrations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  January  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138959859
eBook ISBN: 9781315660493
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines migration and mobility in Asian borderlands by taking a view from the margins of contemporary nation-states. Drawing on ethnographic research at the China-Vietnam borderland, this chapter discusses the various ways in which borderland traders carefully negotiate state-determined border spaces and produce alternative routes and relations that constitute transgressive livelihood strategies at the nation’s edge. Borderland mobile practices produce migrant edginess, generating controversial zones of profit and morality. Focusing on borderland permissive politics and migrant mobilities, this chapter argues that migrant practices shed light on the production of various in-between spaces, including illegal passages, immoral trade, dangerous liaisons and corrupt engagement. These practices produce new opportunities of market participation for the often marginalised and criminalised.

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