This chapter considers the way that multidirectional migration flows are transforming national citizenship and its territorial premises. Eschewing the tendency to study emigration and immigration as discrete fields, it proposes an approach that brings together seemingly distinct emigration, immigration, and re-migration trends under an analytical framework known as contemporaneous migration. This approach illuminates how citizenship formations in different national contexts are increasingly drawn into a constellation of relations, situating the migration and citizenship politics of national societies in a trans-territorial context. The chapter contextualizes developments in Chinese emigration and immigration to China in wider theoretical debates on emigration and diaspora, citizenship and territory, immigrant integration and re-migration, and ethnicity and co-ethnicity. It signals the multifaceted aspects of migration that interconnect China with migration sites globally, changing citizenship norms and practices.
Counter-diasporic migration, or the return of diasporic descendants to an ancestral land, has become a global trend. This chapter troubles linear narratives of emigration and immigration by examining the re-migration of diasporic descendants, focusing on Chinese diasporic descendants in Malaya, Indonesia, and Vietnam who were compelled to leave due to persecution between 1949 and 1979, a period of the inauguration of communist rule in China. The Chinese state resettled the refugees in state-owned farms and labeled them as "returnees," legitimizing its reach toward the diaspora. But the social realities they experienced expose contestations over presumed kinship and co-ethnicity. After 1978 China's diaspora strategizing shifted from privileging co-ethnicity to encouraging foreign investment and skills transfer to benefit national development. This discussion foregrounds how citizenship formations in China were intimately connected to the experiences of the Chinese abroad and those who re-migrated to the ancestral land.
Analyzing emigration, immigration, and re-migration concurrently, under the framework of contemporaneous migration, directs us toward evaluating what it means to stake claims to different components of citizenship in more than one political community across a migrant's life course. This chapter examines the way the Mainland Chinese migrants negotiate social reproduction concerns that extend across international borders, their multiple national affiliations, and aspirations for recognition and rights as they journey between China and Canada across the life course. Patterns of re-migration are transforming the social relations of citizenship, re-spatializing rights, obligations, and belonging. Source and destination countries are also reversed during repeated re-migration or transnational sojourning. Transnational sojourning forges citizenship constellations that interlink how migrants understand and experience citizenship across different migration sites.
This chapter examines how fraternity and alterity operate in contradictory ways under conditions of contemporaneous migration. While fraternity connotes membership in a national community, alterity refers to the state of being different or the process of "Othering." The chapter focuses on Singapore as a hub, where concurrent immigration and emigration flows are creating new postcolonial nation-building challenges. Contemporary immigration from China is juxtaposed against past migration from the same ancestral land, generating both co-ethnic and inter-ethnic tensions in a multicultural society. With growing numbers of Singaporeans now moving abroad, Singapore has also become a country that seeks to assert an extraterritorial reach over its emigrants. The multidirectional migration flows evinced in Singapore exemplify how states and national societies invoke temporal framings to prioritize natal ties that are based on selected versions of territorial belonging, memory, and culture.
Studying the interface of distinct yet interrelated migration trends through the framework of contemporaneous migration allows us to conceptualize both inter-ethnic and co-ethnic relations in culturally diverse societies. The Chinese worldview of tianxia informs understanding of the multidirectional migration patterns that reflect and impact China's domestic management of ethnic diversity and its external relations. This chapter argues that contemporaneous migration further illuminates three dimensions of alterity, namely alterity as phenotypical difference, as the diversification of co-ethnicity, and as spatial recalibration. It interfaces African immigration to China with the re-migration of Chinese diasporic descendants to the ancestral land, and the emigration of ethnic minorities in China. Such an analytical approach reveals how fraternity and alterity operate within and across ethnic categories in transnational contexts.
This chapter shows how the analytical framework of contemporaneous migration allows an examination of citizenship constellations that are forged across migration sites. It draws together key themes that emerge from this approach, namely on citizenship and territory, fraternity and alterity, and the co-constitution of time and space. The chapter further signals the new research directions that contemporaneous migration brings to overseas Chinese studies or research on the "Chinese diaspora," and to the Chinese worldview of tianxia in relation to notions of cosmopolitanism. It also sets out the methods through which contemporaneous migration can be studied.