CALL FOR PAPERS - Mobilities & Temporalities: Rethinking Migrant Trajectories and Transnational Lifestyles in the Asian Context

Minghua Tay's picture
Call for Papers
October 1, 2015
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Demographic History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Nationalism History / Studies

In recent years, the so-called ‘mobilities turn’ has had considerable impact on the study of migration and transnationalism. Ushered in as a new paradigm within the social sciences, it presents a new way of looking at social phenomena through the prism of mobility. While on the one hand a direct response to the often static approach in social sciences towards the idea of ‘movement’ itself – largely treating it as a given, something that needed no further explanation or thought – the paradigm shift is also an endeavour to engage with the speeding up of the mobility of people, goods and ideas in general. ‘Mobilities’ as such has become synonymous with an acceleration of economic, social and cultural life.

Migration scholars however have also noted that the renewed focus on ‘mobilities’ is not necessarily new. The introduction of the concept of transnationalism two decades ago can be thought of as an earlier ‘turn’ towards a ‘mobilities’ oriented perspective within the study of migration itself. Where migration trajectories were once imagined along rather uni-directional linear pathways, during the 1990s, the focus gradually moved to spotlight the transnational character of many migrants’ lives and livelihoods. In Asia, the availability of budget airlines and cheap air-tickets allowed migrants to return home much more frequently than ever before. In addition new developments in telecommunications made it possible to stay in touch with family and friends on a daily basis over transnational space. This presented a fundamental change in the migration experience and demanded a response from researchers.

Building upon the transnationalism optic and the more recent ‘mobilities’ turn, this workshop seeks to advance the migration literature in two ways:

  • First, it seeks to understand how migrant trajectories coalesce with pathways of upward or downward social mobility. How is social mobility experienced by people on the move in Asia and how is it strategized as part of transnational migration trajectories?
  • Second, in the context of migration regimes in Asia where temporary migration predominates, recent studies have started to flag how an increasing number of migrants are in essence ‘permanently’ temporary while migrations are continually ‘circular’. How do migrants navigating temporary or circular migration pathways engage notions of transience and permanence, and the many gradations of temporary or partial membership in(-between) home and host societies? How do temporalities impact the engagement with local/transnational space and place?


For this workshop we are primarily interested in Asia-focused papers that build upon strong ethnographic material and that seek to make a conceptually bold and innovative contribution to the discussion on mobilities and migration/transnationalism. We particularly welcome contributions from the fields of anthropology, sociology and geography. If your work is mainly quantitative or historical in nature you might not be a good fit for this workshop. If your paper is selected, the Asia Research Institute will cover your airfare and accommodation.

Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (250 words maximum) and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 1 October 2015. Please send your proposals to Ms Tay Minghua at

Successful applicants will be notified by November 2015 and will be required to send in a completed draft paper (5,000 - 8,000 words) by 1 February 2016.


Dr Michiel Baas
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
E |

Prof Brenda S.A. Yeoh
Asia Research Institute, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences,
and Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
E |


Contact Info: 

Ms TAY Minghua

Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
469A Bukit Timah Road, Tower Block #10-01
Singapore 259770

T | (65) 6516 4224

Contact Email: