Mr Bernard Keo1, Dr Catherine Chan3, Ms Divya Gopalakrishnan4, Dr Guo-Quan Seng2, Dr Susie Protschky1
1Monash University, Australia, 2National University of Singapore, Singapore, 3University of Macau,, Macau, 4University of Melbourne, Australia
Co-Convenors: Bernard Keo and Catherine Chan
Chair: Bernard Keo
‘Asia’ as both concept and place has always been underpinned by mobility, particularly of people. The ability to move across and between the various constituent parts of Asia offered unprecedented opportunities for individuals and families to improve their lives. Through time, settlers and their descendants found and made ‘homes’ across Asia, especially those who successfully established themselves in their new environs. For these peoples, ‘home’ exceeded singular notions of race, nation and culture. Through the lens of ‘cosmopolitan’ actors and communities, this panel explores the various ways individuals and/or communities established their lives by breaking down rigid categories that emerged under European colonialism in the nineteenth-century and later, the rise of the Asian nation-state during the post-World War II period. Gathering scholars from transnational history, cultural history, social history and political history, this panel aims, firstly, to examine the lives of cosmopolitan actors and communities in relation to social and economic mobility. Secondly, this panel analyses the global flows of people and culture within a framework that transcended the boundaries of the state. Drawing chiefly from the study of polyglot individuals and communities on the move, the aim is to suggest a broader, more complex understanding of Asia as a place where the categorisation of people, politics, and society found new interpretations and shaped unprecedented human interactions.