Call for Papers (14 June 2013): ARI Conference on Theorising Mobilities in/from Asia

Asia’s rapid ascension to become a beacon of 21st century development has ostensibly rendered the region that much more dynamic and fluid. In particular, the continent now seems abuzz with activities involving the circulation of large numbers of people and goods between and within countries and urban centers. While mobilities have long been a staple in Asian societies and a force of social transformation throughout history, a greater need/desire for mobility in recent years has impelled new ways of being on the move in Asia. Of note, fresh outlooks have emerged in relations to the organisation of. as well as people’s aspirations for, migration and transport mobilities—at times resulting in new innovations and phenomena, and at others, seeing the importation and re-circulation of different models.

Shifting the focus to these themes inevitably plugs Asian social research to literatures subscribing to the mobilities turn. Of note, there is growing awareness among scholars that societies are principally loose formations shaped and reshaped by the very condition of flux and restlessness, rather than stable, self-evident entities. From how urban rhythms alter the city’s fabric to how international travel is governed, scholars have outlined the disparate ways in which places are animated, made meaningful, and moulded out of mobile ideologies and practices. The resulting scholarship is also one that does not seek to locate stasis, but one that tries to unfix apparent, but misleading, ‘fixities’.

Despite this newfound emphasis, the mobilities literature has remained rooted in the Anglo-American context within which it first gained prominence. Its disposition, it seems, remains to valorise, even universalise, ‘western’ theories, terminologies and perspectives about moving, so much so that ‘Other’ expressions of mobilities have been silenced or excluded. This conference thus invites scholars to explore ways of retrieving these lost knowledges of mobilities through a deliberate (re)turn to ‘Asia’. In particular, the region is taken as a collective of centres for re-understanding and re-theorising mobilities in their plurality and, especially, how migration and transport have compelled new social outlooks and modes of organisation in ‘Asian’ contexts. In building such a cosmopolitan case, participants are encouraged to engage with the following questions:

• What do mobilities (and mobile subjects) mean in the region, and how are they expressed through migration and transport?
• How have mobilities in Asia developed over time and through disparate historical pathways?
• What are the impetuses for mobilities in Asia, particularly where organised movements are involved?
• How do different forms of mobilities intersect and to what extent have they challenged regulatory regimes in Asian contexts?
• How do we theorise mobilities in Asia vis-à-vis other regions?


Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract of 300 words maximum and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 14 June 2013. Please send all proposals to Mr Weiqiang Lin at here for the Paper Proposal Submission Form. Successful applicants will be notified by 14 July 2013 and will be required to send in a completed draft paper (5000 – 8000 words) by 14 October 2013.

Based on the quality of proposals and the availability of funds, partial or full funding will be granted to successful applicants. Participants are therefore encouraged to seek funding for travel from their home institutions. Full funding cover air travel to Singapore by the most economical means, plus board and lodging for the duration of the conference.



14-15 November 2013


Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore





Prof Brenda YEOH
Asia Research Institute, Department of Geography,
and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
Mr Weiqiang LIN
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

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