Ph.D., Sociology & Social Policy, Princeton University (2019)

M.A., Sociology & Social Policy, Princeton University (2016)

B.A. (Hons), Sociology, University of British Columbia (2012)

Dr. Cheong is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Her 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 her book project, tentatively entitled Omitted Lives, Dr. Cheong 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, she shows 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.

Other Research:

Dr. Cheong’s 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, Dr. Cheong has 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).