Globalization and migration

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 16:30 – 18:20

Lecture venue

Course description

This course explores the role of globalization in shaping precarious, contested or criminalized types of migration, such as human trafficking, migrant labour, migrant sex work and refugees. Key debates about cross-border mobilities provide a framework for understanding contestations around legality and ‘illegality’ in migration, national sovereignty, citizenship and belonging, and how these challenge our conventional understanding of migration across the global North-South divide. In particular, we will consider what bodies are produced or required by globalized economies, and how the meaning of bodies or social differences (e.g. sexuality, class, race) change across borders.

The course content is centred around diverse voices in current debates about migration, including academics, practitioners, policymakers, activists and civil society. Assessments are geared towards facilitating students’ interaction and engagement with public or community initiatives around globalization and migration.

Course learning outcomes

On completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify types of globalized human flows, and analyse their causes, motivations, nature, issues and debates in discourses concerning migration, national belonging, identity politics, and national sovereignty.
  • Demonstrate understanding of globalization in producing diverse forms of labour and dispossessed populations who migrate, and engage with the moral and political discourses shaping people flows across borders.
  • Participate as active members of a diverse global community through exposure to key issues and debates in transnational mobilities that they will be encouraged to explore in their assignments.
  • Engage in intensive group activities with their classmates in seeking solutions to existing problems in human flows.


Tutorial participation20%
Resources reflection30%
Group project30%
Take-home test20%

Required reading

Each week, there will typically be a required reading that students must read in preparation (e.g. a journal article). The required readings for this course are principally drawn from a range of journal articles and book chapters listed below. PDFs of all required readings will be available online for students, students are not required to purchase any reading materials for this course.


Andrijasevic, R. (2007). Beautiful dead bodies: Gender, migration and representation in antitrafficking campaigns. Feminist Review, 86(1), 24-44.

Bernstein, E., & Shih, E. (2014). The erotics of authenticity: Sex trafficking and “reality tourism” in Thailand. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 21(3), 430-460.

Hoang, K. K. (2014). Flirting with capital: Negotiating perceptions of pan-Asian ascendency and Western decline in global sex work. Social Problems, 61(4), 507-529.

Ngai, P. & Koo, A. (2015). A “world-class” (labor) camp/us: Foxconn and China’s new generation of labor migrants. positions, 23(3), 411-435.

Pande, A. (2012). From “balcony talk” and “practical prayers” to illegal collectives: Migrant domestic workers and meso-level resistances in Lebanon. Gender & Society, 26(3), 382-405.

Pickering, S., & Ham, J. (2014). Hot pants at the border: Sorting sex work from trafficking. British Journal of Criminology, 54(1), 2-19.

Pollock, J. (2010). The migrant worker, the refugee, and the trafficked person: What’s in a label? Alliance News, 33(July), 19-22.

Sanchez, G. (2014). Chapter 5: Gendering smuggling: Women and the facilitation of extralegal border crossings. In G. Sanchez, Human smuggling and border crossings (pp. 89-106). London: Routledge.

Showler, P. (2007). Bridging the Grand Canyon: Deciding refugee claims. Queen’s Quarterly: A Canadian Review, 114(1), 29-43.

Stumpf, J. (2006). The crimmigration crisis: Immigrants, crime and sovereign power. American University Law Review, 56(2), 367-419 [Students are only required to read pages 379-395.]

Vecchio, F. (2015). Chapter 4: Establishing life at the destination. In Asylum-seeking and the global city. Oxon: Routledge.

Weber, L. & Pickering, S. (2011). Chapter 5: Suspicious deaths (pp. 119-141). In Globalization and borders: Deaths at the global frontier. Oxon: Routledge.

Student view

It’s rare that a couse can have an interesting topic each week, but this one manages to do so. It gives you insight and perspectives on the most current issues relating too globalization and migration, in both Hong Kong and the world.
– Michael Kragelund, 4th year MSocSc student in Criminology