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Perception and Identity

Updated: Apr 5

Narratives of Indian and Chinese Migrants in Singapore's Multicultural Mosaic

Megha Wadhwa

Ruth Achenbach 

April 24, 2024, 18:00-19:30 (JST)


Venue: Room 301, 3F, Building 10, Sophia University

For Zoom Meeting information, please register from here:

Migration experiences of skilled migrants are influenced by their nationality, which affects not only how they are perceived by their host countries but also their own perceptions of these new environments. In this presentation, we will explore the lives of skilled migrants from India and China who are currently living in Singapore. We will delve into the intricate ways in which their migration motivations are intertwined with their national but also their ethnic identity. We'll also examine how their nationality affects their legal status options, their sense of belonging, and, consequently, their cultural and social experiences. By comparing the narratives of these two distinct groups, we aim to uncover the nuanced role of nationality in the dynamic process of seeing and being seen within Singapore's multicultural society. This exploration sheds light on the complex interplay between identity, migration, and integration, offering insights into the experiences of Indian and Chinese skilled migrants. The research was conducted using both in-person and online approaches, starting in 2021. While most of the interviews were carried out in audio format, some were conducted in video format to capture the nuanced perspectives of the participants effectively. 

(The talk will be followed by a short film in which an Indian and a Chinese couple reflects on their life in Singapore.)

Megha Wadhwa is an anthropologist, filmmaker, and writer based at the Free University of Berlin’s Japanese Studies department. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Temple University Japan. She is also a visiting scholar at Sophia University Tokyo. She is the author of Indian migrants in Tokyo: A study of socio-cultural, religious and working worlds (Routledge:2021). Her current research looks into migration trends of Indians in Japan, Singapore and Germany.


Ruth Achenbach (Goethe University Frankfurt) is principal investigator of two research projects on Asian migration at the Interdisciplinary Center for East Asian Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. She is also a visiting scholar at Sophia University Tokyo. Her work focuses on the migration of Chinese students and professionals in East and Southeast Asia, Japanese migration to Germany, migrants’ locational decision-making processes and Japanese development cooperation. She is the author of Return Migration Decisions. A Study on Highly Skilled Chinese in Japan (Springer, 2017).

This project is a part of BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany) funded project – Qualification and Skill in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia and supported by the ICC Collaborative Research Unit “Visual Studies and Displacement in/to Japan”, a Joint Research Unit between Institute of Comparative Culture and Free University of Berlin.


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