Sambas Malay borderscapes: Women’s mobility and migration at the border

Australian Research Council Discovery Project

Dr Wendy Mee (Chief Investigator) with Professor Joel Kahn and Dr C Houston

This project is a case-study of women's labour migration and other forms of mobility that operate at the territorial borders of nation-states. Using the example of Sambas, a regency in Indonesian Borneo that borders the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the research explores three borderscapes – or border imaginaries – that shape the form of women's cross-border mobility.

The project contributes to our understanding of the mobile lives of women who in live in border zones in three ways. First, it provides a borderlands perspective on women's independent mobility in a part of Borneo where studies of women's migration remain scarce. It also deepens our appreciation of the significance of crossing other 'borders' (and not just territorial ones) in the lives of borderlanders. Finally, it considers women's mobility in relation to the constitution of Malayness, an area of study that has typically overlooked women's contribution to Malay cultural identity processes.
This project was funded by the Australian Research Council, DP0771272 (2007-2009) 'Translocal Identities in the Malay World'.


Mee, W (2015) 'Work and Cosmopolitanism at the Border: Indonesian Women Labour Migrants', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, pp. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1049589.

Mee, W (2014) 'Beyond the Personal in Sambas, Indonesia', Critical Asian Studies, 46:3, 405-432. DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2014.935134.

Mee, W (2012) 'The Ebb and Flow of Popular Islamic Music Forms: Zikir Maulud amongst Sambas Malays', Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 40: pp. 203–233. DOI: 10.1017/S002246341000007X.

Mee, W (2010) 'A Traffic in Songket: Malay Translocal Identities in Sambas', in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 41, Issue 2, pp. 321-339.


For further information about this project, please contact:

Dr Wendy Mee
Department of Social Inquiry
La Trobe University 
T: +61 3 9479 1703