State boundaries, cultural politics, and gender negotiations in commercially arranged international marriages in Singapore and Malaysia

This research was funded by an MOE Tier 2 research grant from May 2008 to August 2011. Its aim was to understand the phenomenon of international marriages and the dynamics of marriage migration within the Asian region. Through an examination of the processes through which these international marriages occur and the circumstances, researchers involved attempt to unpick circumstances and social forces that are both enabling and restricting to the actors in their decision making process. The nature, role and function of the state, individual agency, as well as the matchmaking industry were also interrogated in the context of international marriage.

In 2013, the research team has continued to analyze data and produce publications that pay specific attention to an array of issues relating to social capital, citizenship rights, gender and sexuality, racialization and social exclusion, (im)mobility, transnational family strategies and global householding, the “commercialization” of intimacy, “entrepreneurial marriage” and the social production of migrant (il)legality.

Awarding body:
Academic Research Council, Ministry of Education (ARC, MOE) for AcRF Tier 2

Investigator(s) & Collaborator(s):
Brenda Yeoh
Gavin Jones
Chee Heng Leng
Melody Lu Chia-Wen
Zhang Juan
Rashidah Shuib
Vu Thi Kieu Dung


Chee, H.L. and B.S.A. Yeoh. 2012. Becoming a commercial marriage broker in Malaysia, Asia Pacific Memo, no. 133, posted on 22 February, available at:

Chee, H.L., B.S.A. Yeoh and R. Shuib, 2012. Circuitous Pathways: Marriage as a Route toward (Il)legality for Indonesian Migrant Workers in Malaysia. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 317-344.

Chee H.L., B.S.A. Yeoh, and R. Shuib, 2012. In-between (Il)legality and Legitimacy: Marriages between Foreign Workers and Citizens in Malaysia, in Doo-Sub Kim (ed.) Cross-Border Marriage: Global Trends and Diversity, Seoul: Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA).

Chee, H.L, B.S.A. Yeoh, and T.K.D. Vu, 2012. From Client to Matchmaker: Social Capital in the Making of Commercial Matchmaking Agents in MalaysiaPacific Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 1, pp. 89-114.

Chee, H.L., C.W. Lu and B.S.A. Yeoh, 2014. Ethnicity, citizenship and reproduction: Taiwanese wives making citizenship claims in Malaysia. Citizenship Studies, Vol. 18, No. 8, pp. 823-838

Cheng, Y.E., B.S.A. Yeoh and J. Zhang, 2015. Still ‘breadwinners’ and ‘providers’: Singaporean husbands, money, and masculinity in transnational marriages. Gender, Place and Culture, Vol. 2, Issue 6. pp. 867-883. (2014, online first)

Heikkilä, E.K. and B.S.A. Yeoh. 2010. eds. International Marriages in the Time of Globalization,  New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Lu, M.C.W., J. Zhang, H.L. Chee and B.S.A. Yeoh, 2015. Multiple mobilities and entrepreneurial modalities of Chinese marriage migrants in Malaysia. Current Sociology, (accepted)

Yeoh, B.S.A., 2013. ‘Upwards’ or ‘Sideways’ Cosmopolitanism? Talent/Labour/Marriage Migrations in the Globalizing City-State of SingaporeMigration Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 96 – 116.

Yeoh, B.S.A. and C.F.T. Lam, 2012. Migration and DiverseCity: Singapore’s Changing Demography, Identity and Landscape. In: D.W. Haines, K. Yamanaka, and S. Yamashita, eds. 2012. Wind over Water: Rethinking Migration in an East Asian Context. New York: Berghahn, pp. 60-77.

Yeoh, B.S.A., H.L. Chee and G.H.Y. Baey, 2013. The place of Vietnamese marriage migrants in Singapore: Social reproduction, social “problems” and social protection. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 10, pp. 1927-1941.

Yeoh, B.S.A., H.L. Chee, T.K.D. Vu and Y Cheng, 2012. Between Two Families: The Social Meaning of Remittances for Vietnamese Marriage Migrants in SingaporeGlobal Networks, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 441-458.

Yeoh, B.S.A., H.L. Chee and T.K.D. Vu, 2012. Commercially Arranged Marriage and the Negotiation of Citizenship Rights among Vietnamese Marriage Migrants in Multiracial Singapore. Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 139-156.

Yeoh, B.S.A., H.L. Chee and T.K.D. Vu, 2014. Global householding and the negotiation of intimate labour in commercially-matched international marriages between Vietnamese women and Singaporean men. Geoforum, Vol. 51, pp. 284-293

Zhang, J, C.W. Lu and B.S.A. Yeoh, 2015. Cross-border marriage, trans-governmental friction, and waiting. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 229-246.