Mobilities, Communication, and Asia| Essentialist Identities as Resistance to Immobilities: Communicative Mobilities of Vietnamese Foreign Brides in Singapore

Arul Chib, Hoan Nguyen


Global migrations are often associated with, indeed motivated by, upward social mobility. However, the new mobilities paradigm emphasizes structural inequalities of migration mobilities that allow movement for some but mean stasis for others. This article studies the realities of marginalized marriage migrants engaged in the simultaneities of mobilities and immobilities, adopting resistant strategies against structures of social and regulatory oppression. We conducted qualitative interviews and ethnographic research with 33 Vietnamese foreign brides in Singapore. Applying an intersectionality framework reveals that, in response to multiple forms of spatial and social immobilities, the marriage migrants adopted essentialist identities at the intersection of ethnicity, gender, and class. Communication technologies, symbolic of new mobilities, were found to facilitate essentialist expression. The study reveals the complexity of intersectional marginalization and mediated essentialist strategies developed by marriage migrants facing immobilities, contesting dominant views of gender empowerment in postcolonial scholarship on identity.


gender, intersectionality, migration, mobilities, mobile phone

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