Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Professor Bill Ong Hing


Over the course of more than two millennia the Hukou System has shifted in scope and purpose. In dynastic times it served as a mechanism of tax acquisition. In more recent years it has functioned as a method of census and land distribution. Today it holds a duplicitous function serving as both an economic and social control mechanism. The Hukou achieves this through controlling movement through a passport like system of internal registration. In simpler terms, think of the Hukou as an internal passport regulating movement while simultaneously holding all of your biometric data which is surveilled and controlled by a centralized government institution. This work explores the duality of this system and the effects that such a system have had on two sub-sects of people within the PRC. In the first case study I examine the economic side of the Hukou and the role it plays in the lives of Han economic migrants. In the second case I examine the social-control aspect and its implementation in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. By engaging in this analysis, I show the possible outcomes of the continuance of such a system and how it could play a larger role in global migration governance in coming years.

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