I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. My research examines the links between legal status and the reproduction of inequality, with a focus on undocumented migrants, stateless persons, and refugees.
Omitted Lives (Book Project)
Functional, inclusive civil registration systems are instrumental to governments in delivering basic rights and services, as well as informing public policy. Yet, millions worldwide remain uncounted. In my book project, tentatively entitled Omitted Lives, I explore both the causes of being uncounted, and its micro- and macro-level consequences for individuals’ life chances and countries’ development aspirations. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Malaysia, I show how uncounted populations are not always the product of a lack of state capacity, as has been largely assumed by social scientists and development actors. Rather, who gets counted, and how, are inherently political choices that are often made in ways that leave migrants and racial minorities without the means to prove their legal personhood.
My other work draws on a range of methods, including survey data analysis and community action research, to examine the stratifying impacts of documentation and legal status. Projects explore: 1) the impacts of previous undocumented experience on the naturalization propensities of immigrants in the United States (published in the International Migration Review); 2) the relationships between migration, legal status, and health among Mexican immigrants to the United States (published in the International Migration Review); 3) the use of documentation in the symbolic erasure and expulsion of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar; and 4) stateless children and immigration control regimes (forthcoming in positions: asia critique).
Additionally, I have collaborated with the Latin American Legal Defence and Education Fund on a community-based research project to support efforts to expand access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants (funded by an American Sociological Association Sydney S. Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy Community Action Research Initiative Award, and article forthcoming in Contexts).
Cheong, Amanda R. & the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. (Forthcoming). “Licensed to Integrate: What Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses Would Mean for the Lives of Undocumented Immigrants.” Contexts.
Cheong, Amanda R. (Forthcoming). “Deportable to Nowhere: Stateless Children & Challenges to State Logics of Immigration Control.” positions: asia critique.
Cheong, Amanda R. (2020). “Legal Histories as Determinants of Incorporation: Previous Undocumented Experience and Naturalization Propensities Among Immigrants in the United States.” International Migration Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918320934714
Cheong, Amanda R. & Massey, Douglas S. (2019). “Undocumented and Unwell: Legal Status and Health Among Mexican Migrants.” International Migration Review 53(2): 571-601. https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918318775924
Cheong, Amanda R. (2018). “Immigration and Shifting Conceptions of Citizenship: The Case of Stateless Chinese-Bruneians in Canada.” In New Chinese Migrations: Mobility, Home, Inspirations. Eds. Yuk Wah Chan & Sin Yee Koh. New York: Routledge.
Cheong, Amanda R. (2014). “Using Oral Histories to Document the Subjective Experiences of Statelessness: The Case of Stateless Chinese-Bruneian Immigrants in Vancouver.” Tilburg Law Review 29: 74-79.
I was named to the inaugural cohort of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population’s CRVS Fellows Program for 2019-2021.
I was also appointed as a member of the Emerging Scholars Forum of the interdisciplinary journal, Global Perspectives for 2019-2021.