Dr Koh Sin Yee

Senior Lecturer in Global Studies
School of Arts and Social Sciences

+603 5514 5654
Room 2-6-30

Dr Koh Sin Yee is Senior Lecturer in Global Studies at Monash University Malaysia. She completed her PhD in Human Geography and Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has taught at the LSE, City University of Hong Kong, and Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Prior to switching to academia, she was an urban development professional in Singapore.

Her research, positioned at the intersection of migration studies and urban studies, is informed by three areas of interest: (1) migration/mobilities and citizenship; (2) urbanization, inequality and social change; and (3) postcolonial geography. Her recent books include Race, Education, and Citizenship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), Cities and the Super-Rich (co-edited with Ray Forrest and Bart Wissink, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), New Chinese Migrations (co-edited with Yuk Wah Chan, Routledge, 2018), and The Globalisation of Real Estate (co-edited with Dallas Rogers, Routledge, 2018).

Webpage: sinyeekoh.wordpress.com


PhD (Human Geography and Urban Studies, LSE)

PGCertHE (Associate Level, UK)

MSc (Contemporary Urbanism, LSE)

M. Arch (National University of Singapore)

BA (Architecture, National University of Singapore)

Professional Affiliations

  • Higher Education Academy (HEA), UK, Associate Fellow
  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Member (2014–15, 2018–present)
  • Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia (Malaysian Social Science Association–PSSM), Lifetime Member

Membership in Academic Editorial Committees

Research Interests

Dr Koh Sin Yee’s research is positioned at the intersections of migration studies and urban studies, with a particular focus on mobilities and inequalities. Her research is motivated by the desire to understand the causes, processes, and consequences of structural and urban inequalities (especially in Southeast Asian and East Asian contexts), and how people cope individually and collectively under such conditions. Informed by postcolonial geography, her work pays attention to how the historical connects to the present.

Her current research interests include: (1) migration and mobilities; (2) citizenship as differentiated identity, belonging and rights; (3) colonial legacies; (4) youth, education and work; (5) urbanisation, inequality and social change; and (6) intermediaries and brokers.

Her current research projects include: (1) academic expatriates in Malaysia; and (2) Chinese international branch campus in Malaysia.

Research Projects

Mobile Malaysians and A Culture of Migration (2010-2013). This project is based on archival research (colonial Malaya/Singapore and post-colonial Malaysia, 1820s–1970s) and in-depth interviews with 67 mobile Malaysians (i.e. tertiary-educated Malaysian emigrants) in London, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. The research found that there is a culture of migration amongst mobile Malaysians – and in particular, a culture of education-induced migration. Using a postcolonial approach, the research situates this culture of migration in relation to the colonial legacies of race, education, and citizenship that have been inherited and exacerbated by the post-colonial Malaysian state. These internalised colonial legacies, in turn, circumscribe mobile Malaysians’ citizenship and migration practices (including their education plans, citizenship strategies, and migration pathways). Outputs from this project include a monograph (Race, Education, and Citizenship, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), several journal articles and several book chapters (full publication list here).

Alpha-Territoriality and the Super-Rich in Hong Kong and London (with Ray Forrest and Bart Wissink, 2014-2015). This team project examines the ways the super-rich invest and live in Hong Kong and London. The project is based on analyses of spatial data, news articles, and 24 qualitative interviews with super-rich individuals and key informants in intermediary services (e.g. concierge services, private jets and yachts, fine art, real estate investments, financial and wealth management, etc.). Besides offering comparative empirical insights on the real estate practices and spatial practices of urban elites in these two cities, this research also contributes towards current debates on structural inequality, the globalisation and financialisation of residential real estate, and relevant urban policies (such as housing, immigration, citizenship, and tax). Outputs from this project include an edited volume (Cities and the Super-Rich, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), several journal articles and several book chapters (full publication list here).

Investing in ‘Homes’ Across the Border: Comparing the Cases of Brunei-Miri and Singapore-Johor Bahru (2016-2018). This project examines how transnational and cross-border mobilities intersect with urban spatialities. Using participant observations, qualitative interviews, and analyses of news articles and marketing collaterals, this study finds evidence of transnational mobility of property marketing strategies that are creatively adapted to suit local contexts. Current outputs from this project include a journal article on ‘property tourism’ (Asian Review, 2017) and a book chapter on comparative urbanism (full publication list here).


Dr Koh Sin Yee has taught in the departments of Geography and Environment (London School of Economics), Public Policy (City University of Hong Kong), Sociology and Anthropology (Universiti Brunei Darussalam), and Global Studies (Monash University Malaysia). She has supervised honours theses on topics such as livelihoods, experiences, subjectivities and coping strategies in relation to ethnic minorities, youth, married couples, and retirees.

At Monash University Malaysia, she teaches a range of undergraduate and honours units:

AMU2015 Cities and Citizens (2020-present)

AMU2140 States and Markets (2018, 2019)

AMU2625 Borders, People and Identity: Migration in the 21st Century (2019-present)

ATS3793 Global Research (2018)

AMU4720 Research Issues and Methodologies (2019-present)

AMU4727 Readings in Social, Political and Cultural Theory (2018-present)

Dr Koh’s broader teaching interests are in migration studies, urban studies, Asian studies, as well as academic research and writing.


Koh, S.Y. (2017) Race, Education and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘Migration, Diasporas, and Citizenship’ Series.

Edited Books

Chan, Y.W. & Koh, S.Y. (Eds.) (2018) New Chinese Migrations: Mobility, Home, and Inspirations.Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge. ‘Routledge Series on Asian Migration’.

Rogers, D., & Koh, S.Y. (Eds.) (2018) The Globalisation of Real Estate: The Politics and Practice of Foreign Real Estate Investment. Routledge. ‘Routledge Special Issue as Books’ programme.

Forrest, R., Koh, S.Y., & Wissink, B. (Eds.) (2017) Cities and the Super-Rich: Real Estate, Elite Practices and Urban Political Economies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘The Contemporary City’ Series.

Edited Journal Special Issues

Rogers, D., & Koh, S.Y. (Eds.) (2017) The Globalisation of Real Estate: The Politics and Practice of Foreign Real Estate Investment [Special Issue]. International Journal of Housing Policy, 17(1), 1-144.

Journal Articles

Koh, S.Y., & Sin, I.L. (2020). Academic and Teacher Expatriates: Mobilities, Positionalities and Subjectivities. Geography Compass14(5), e12487. doi:10.1111/gec3.12487

Koh, S.Y., & Harris, A. (2020). Multicultural Reflexivity: University Students Negotiating ‘Pockets’ and ‘Strings’ of Multiculturalism in Malaysia. Children’s Geographiesdoi:10.1080/14733285.2020.1713300

Koh, S.Y., & Wissink, B. (2018). Enabling, Structuring and Creating Elite Transnational Lifestyles: Intermediaries of the Super-Rich and the Elite Mobilities Industry. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(4), 592-609.

Koh, S.Y. (2017). Property Tourism and the Facilitation of Investment-Migration Mobility in Asia. Asian Review, 30(1), 27-45.

Koh, S.Y. (2015). Postcolonial Approaches to Migration in Asia: Reflections and Projections. Geography Compass, 9(8), 432-444.

Koh, S.Y. (2015). State-led Talent Return Migration Programme and the Doubly Neglected ‘Malaysian Diaspora’: Whose Diaspora, What Citizenship, Whose Development? Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 36(2), 183-200.

Koh, S.Y. (2015). Temporalities of Citizenship: Malaysian-Chinese Skilled Migrants in Singapore and Returnees to Malaysia. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 24(1), 3-27.

Koh, S.Y. (2015). How and Why Race Matters: Malaysian-Chinese Transnational Migrants Interpreting and Practising Bumiputera-Differentiated Citizenship. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(3), 531-550.

Commentaries & Essays in Journals

Koh, S.Y. (2020). Noncitizens’ Rights: Moving Beyond Migrants’ Rights. Migration and Society: Advances in Research,3(1), 233-237. doi:10.3167/arms.2020.030119

Shin, H.B., Zhao, Y., & Koh, S.Y. (2020). Whither Progressive Urban Futures? Critical Reflections on the Politics of Temporality in Asia. CITY: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory & Action, 24(1-2), 244-254doi:10.1080/13604813.2020.1739925

Koh, S.Y. (2018). More than Real Estate. Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 241-243. [invited essay for book review forum]

Encyclopedia Entries

Koh, S.Y. (2020) Inequality. In Kobayashi, A. (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2nd ed.) (pp. 269-277). Elsevier.

Koh, S.Y. (2020) Super Rich. In Kobayashi, A. (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2nd ed.) (pp. 127-131). Elsevier.

Book Chapters

Koh, S.Y. (2018). Challenges and Opportunities for Comparative Urbanism: The Case of Brunei-Miri and Singapore-Iskander Malaysia. In R. Padawangi (Ed.) Routledge Handbook on Urbanization in Southeast Asia (pp. 101-114). Routledge.

Koh, S.Y. (2017). Geographies of Education-Induced Skilled Migration: The Malaysian Case. In T. Abebe & J. Waters (Eds.), Labouring and Learning (pp. 221-242). Vol.10 of Skelton, T. (Editor-in-chief) Geographies of Children and Young People. Singapore: Springer.

Koh, S.Y., Wissink, B., & Forrest, R. (2016). Reconsidering the Super-rich: Variations, Structural Conditions, and Urban Consequences. In I. Hay & J. Beaverstock (Eds.) Handbook on Wealth and the Super-Rich (pp. 18-40). Cheltenham; Norhampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Koh, S.Y. (2016). Contextualising Geographies of Education-Induced Migration: How Mobile Malaysians End Up in Singapore, London and Kuala Lumpur. In K.F. Lian, M. Rahman and Y. Alas (Eds.) International Migration in Southeast Asia: Continuities and Discontinuities (pp. 83-102). Singapore: Springer.

Koh, S.Y. (2015). Unpacking ‘Malaysia’ and ‘Malaysian Citizenship’: Perspectives of Malaysian-Chinese Skilled Diasporas. In A. Christou & E. Mavroudi (Eds.), Dismantling Diasporas: Rethinking the Geographies of Diasporic Identity, Connection and Development (pp. 129-143). Surrey; Burlington: Ashgate.

Koh, S.Y. (2014). Diasporic ‘Unbelonging’ to Malaysia and Singapore: Second-Generation Malaysian-Chinese Migrants in Singapore. In Y.W. Chan, D. Haines & J.H.X. Lee (Eds.), The Age of Asian Migration: Continuity, Diversity, and Susceptibility Volume I (pp. 358-372). Newcastle upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

For full publications list, see here

Shin, H.B., Zhao, Y.M., & Koh, S.Y., 2019-2020: The Urban Spectre of Global China: Mechanisms, Consequences and Alternatives for Urban Futures, British Academy Tackling the UK's International Challenges 2018, GBP 49,998.

Koh, S.Y., 2018: Chinese University Branch Campuses in ASEAN: The Malaysian Case, SASS Internal Grant, Monash University Malaysia, RM 9,938.50.

Hoon, C. Y., Koh, S. Y., Noor Azam bin Hj Othman, 2018-2019: The Pursuit of Chinese Language among Bruneian Youths: Social, Cultural and Economic Factors, FIC Research Grant, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, BND 8,600.

Koh, S.Y., Hoon, C. Y., Ly Slesman @ Sulaiman Mohammad Ali, 2017-2018: Employability of Recent Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Graduates: A Pilot Qualitative Study, University Research Grant, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, BND 5,000.

Koh, S.Y., 2016-2018: Investing in ‘Homes’ Across the Border: Comparing the Cases of Brunei-Miri and Singapore-Johor Bahru, University Research Grant, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, BND 10,000.

Koh, S.Y., Wan, S., 2011-2015: Urban Vignettes, Urban@LSE Student-led Initiative Fund, London School of Economics and Political Science, GBP 500.

Areas of Research & Supervision

Dr Koh Sin Yee welcomes enquiries on PhD supervision on broad research areas such as (1) migration and mobilities; (2) citizenship as differentiated identity, belonging and rights; (3) colonial legacies; (4) youth, education and work; (5) urbanisation, inequality and social change; and (6) intermediaries and brokers.

Postgraduate (Monash University)

Arath Nirmala Prabhakar (with associate supervisor: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan)

Migration Infrastructure and the Transnational Migration Experiences of Female Ayurveda Therapists from Kerala, India to Malaysia (2019-present)

Krisha Raveendran Vishinpir (with main supervisor: Associate Professor Sharon A. Bong)

Crossing Boundaries: Negotiation of Islam Amongst Female Muslim Refugees in Malaysia (2019-present)


  • John A. Lent prize for best paper on Malaysia, Singapore, or Brunei presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies
  • Institute of Asia Pacific Studies Visiting Research Fellowship (funded), University of Nottingham Malaysia (May-June 2015)