Race and Class Mobilities in Asia (2/2):

Mr Bernard Keo1, Dr John Solomon4, Ms Hema Kiruppalini4, Dr Sophie Loy-Wilson5, Mr Katon Lee3,2, Mr Nathan Gardner6

1Monash University, , Australia, 2University of Bristol, , United Kingdom, 3Hong Kong Baptist University, , Hong Kong, 4National University of Singapore, , Singapore, 5University of Sydney, , Australia, 6University of Melbourne, , Australia

Co-Convenors: Bernard Keo and Catherine Chan

Chair: Catherine Chan


‘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.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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