2019 Annual Conference

Date: August 26-28, 2019

Venue: Room 1505, NYU Shanghai


Asia, arguably the world’s most diversified yet fragmented geographic region, has never been a single, bounded landmass but a porous network of corridors where transports of people have linked the region’s expansive lands, peninsulas, archipelagoes, and much-coveted seawaters. Studying the movement of communities within and beyond Asia therefore means not just explaining the material circumstances and discourses driving the phenomenon of migration, or investigating the infrastructures, sociocultural formations, ecological changes, and new modes of knowledge that result; it means also confronting the conceptual elasticity of the term Asia and uncovering the historical connectedness of individual Asian societies.

The Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai highlights “Asian migration” as the theme of its fourth annual conference. Between 1850 and 1930 there was an unprecedented growth in Asian migration due to the widespread political and economic transformations in Asia associated with European expansion. Around seven million people from Qing and Republican China settled in Southeast Asia during this period. Many also went to South Asia and Europe. There were others who arrived in Africa and the America, embedded within the indentured labor movement or drawn by the California Gold Rush. Similarly, there were about six million Indians who settled in Southeast Asia and millions of others who reached Africa, Australia and the Americas as indentured labors. Migration of Chinese and Indians continued during most of the twentieth century, some of these people were part of re-migration process while others returned to their ancestral homeland. The geographic mobility of the Japanese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, West Asians within and beyond Asia paralleled the movement of Chinese and Indians. This movement of Asians, which continues to the present-day, shaped the history and culture of different regions of the world, fostered cross-regional connections, led to the spread and mixing of religious beliefs, created different forms of cuisines, and complicated the concepts of national and cultural identities. Increasingly, it also prompts us to discuss what it means to move at all, and to adapt, transition, and challenge privileged forms of social embodiment and alliance in radical ways.

The conference explores several facets of travel and mobility, conditions of human connectivity, as well as their potential risks and costs, in a context where the fates and decisions of differently empowered individuals—such as marital and labor migrants, refugees, overseas students, returnees, transgender communities, asylum seekers, transnational families, and so on—are often intertwined with the structural changes in both the sending and receiving societies. It examines multiple sites associated with Asian migration within Asia as well as those in Africa and the Americas, and addresses issues of identity formation, contestation, imaginaries, socio-economic entanglements, and political networking, among others. The key objective is to understand Asia’s internal and external connections through the movement of people.


National University of Singapore

University of Hong Kong

Emerson Electric [Asia] Limited

Tsinghua University

Shiv Nadar University

Rice University

NYU Shanghai

NYU Shanghai

University of Technology Sydney

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

New York University

NYU Shanghai

National Taipei University of Education

NYU Shanghai

University of the Philippines

National University of Singapore

Nanyang Technological University

National University of Singapore

Michigan State University

NYU Shanghai

NYU Shanghai

CommonWealth Magazine

National University of Singapore

New York University

New York University

Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand

Freelance Artist

NYU Shanghai

NYU Shanghai

Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica

Waseda University

NYU Abu Dhabi

Waseda University

National Chung Cheng University

National University of Singapore

Peking University

Jilin University

National University of Singapore

Korea University

Independent Writer and Researcher

Duke Kunshan University


August 26, 2019

Chair:  Duane Corpis (NYU Shanghai)

09:45-10:05  David Ludden (New York University)

Mobility, Migration, and Money in Cowrie Country, Sylhet

10:05-10:25  Elvan Cobb (Rice University)

Steaming Through Ancient Lands: Comparative Tourist Mobilities in Western Anatolia and Southern Mesopotamia

10:25–10:45  Devleena Ghosh (University of Technology Sydney)

Unofficial Travel: Connections and Circulations in the Indian Ocean in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

10:45-11:15  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Tzu-hui Celina Hung (NYU Shanghai)

13:00–13:20  Choy Fong Theodora Lam (National University of Singapore)

Negotiating the Marital Lifecourse: Marriage Migration, Critical Junctures and the Linked Lives of Cross-National Couples in Singapore

13:20–13:40  Jian An Liew (National University of Singapore)

Tuning Care Relations at Home: Foreign Domestic Workers and the Elderly in Singapore

13:40–14:00  Kellynn Wee (National University of Singapore)

Maid Agents and the Puzzle of Moral Credibility: Brokering Migrant Domestic Work in Singapore

14:00–14:20  Kristel Anne Fernandez Acedera (National University of Singapore)

When Care is Near, Far, and In-between: Polymedia and the Negotiation of Transnational Parenting by Left-behind Children and their Carers

14:20-15:00  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Hongyan Gu (Institute of China Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)

15:20–15:40 Chunji Xuan (Jilin University)

The Effect of Korean-Chinese Immigrants to the Trade and FDI Between China and South Korea

15:40–16:00 In-Jin Yoon (Korea University)

International Migration and Migrant Integration in Korea : Their Relevance to Japan and Chinese Taipei

16:00–16:20 Hideki Tarumoto (Waseda University)

How to Become an Immigration Country:  A Japanese Case

16:20-16:50  DISCUSSION

17:30-19:00  Brenda S.A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore)

Transnational Migrations, Plural Diversities and the Spaces of Encounter in Singapore

August 27, 2019

Chair:  Marina Kaneti (National University of Singapore)

09:20–09:40 Tansen Sen (NYU Shanghai)

Who Was Atchew? Examining the Origin Myth of the Chinese Indian Community

09:40–10:00  Piya Chakraborty (Shiv Nadar University)

Food and Diaspora: An Ethnographic Study of  Chinese Restaurants in Kolkata

10:00–10:20  Yin Cao (Tsinghua University)

The Last Hump: The Lahore Elementary Flying Training School, the Chinese Civil War, and the Final Days of the British Raj

10:20-10:50  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Shirin Esther Edwin (NYU Shanghai)

11:10–11:30  Cheryl Schmitz (NYU Shanghai)

Work Without Life: The Value of Moneymaking Among Chinese Migrants in Angola

11:30–11:50  Derek Sheridan (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica)

Wachina, Wahindi, and the Vanishing Figure of “Asian” Intermediaries in South-South Imaginaries

11:50–12:10  Liang Xu (Peking University)

Factory, Family, and Industrial Frontier: A Socioeconomic Study of Chinese Clothing Firms in Newcastle, South Africa

12:10-12:40  DISCUSSION

Chair:  David Ludden (New York University)

14:00–14:20  Fang He (NYU Shanghai)

Admissibility Inside Out: Contested Bodies and U.S. Administration of Chinese Exclusion Laws

14:20–14:40  Heather Ruth Lee (NYU Shanghai)

The Chinese Banquet: Chinese Immigrants and the Brokering of Power in Turn of the Century New York

14:40–15:00  Tina Shrestha (Waseda University)

Surviving the Sanctuary City: Ordinary Suffering and Asylum-Seeking Work among Nepali New Yorkers

15:00–15:20  Deirdre Harkins (New York University)

Keeping an Invisible Race, Invisible: Asians in a White Argentina

15:20-16:00  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Brenda S.A. Yeoh (National University of Singapore)

16:10–16:30  Yun-Chan Liao (CommonWealth Magazine)

From Literature Award to Bookstore: Building Viable Community Networks for Taiwan’s Southeast Asian Migrants

16:30–16:50  Tzu-hui Celina Hung (NYU Shanghai)

The Promise and Challenge of Translation in the Taiwan Literature Awards for Migrants

16:50–17:10  Tsung-Lung Tsai (National Chung Cheng University)

Documenting Taiwan’s New Immigrants and Migrant Workers: Production Process and Post-Production Challenges

17:10–17:30  Hsin-Chin Evelyn Hsieh (National Taipei University of Education)

Documentary as a Tool of Intervention: Gender and Identity Politics of Southeast Asian Marriage Migrants in Taiwan

17:30-18:10  DISCUSSION

August 28, 2019

Chair:  Tansen Sen (NYU Shanghai)

09:30–09:50  Anh Sy Huy Le (Michigan State University)

“Leaves Falling Back to Its Roots”: Chinese Migrants, Repatriations of Remains, and Colonial Modernity in French Cochinchina, 1892–1893

09:50–10:10  Qian Zhu (Duke Kunshan University)

Exile to the Equator: Chinese Anti-Colonialism in Southeast Asia in the WWII

10:10–10:30  Xiaorong Han (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

The Ethnic Chinese Revolutionaries in Northern Vietnam during the First Indo-China War

10:30-11:00  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Jaya Jacobo (University of the Philippines)

11:10–11:30  Brenda Rodriguez Alegre (University of Hong Kong) and Leo Fernandez Almero (Emerson Electric [Asia] Limited)

The Transpinays: Migrating Bodies, Identities, and Sexualizations

11:30–11:50    Prempreeda Pramoj Na Ayutthaya (Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand)

Trans Migrants and Refugees in Thailand: An Intersectional Perspective

11:50–12:10  Shieko Reto (Freelance Artist)

“What Are You Doing Here? When Are You Going to Fly?”: The Trans Experience in Malaysia

12:10–12:30  Hendri Yulius (Independent Writer and Researcher)

Aspirational Migration, National Attachment: Trans Mobility and National Belonging in Indonesia

12:30-13:10  DISCUSSION

Chair:  Mark Swislocki (NYU Abu Dhabi)

14:10–14:30 Yifei Li (NYU Shanghai)

Greening the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Global Environmental Politics in the Age of Global China

14:30–14:50  Marina Kaneti (National University of Singapore)

A Paradigm Shift?: China and the Responsibility for Environmental Protection

14:50–15:10  Ayesha Omer (New York University)

The Digital New Silk Road: A Study of the Pak-China Fiber Optic Cable

15:10-15:40  DISCUSSION

Keynote Address

「 Transnational Migrations, Plural Diversities and the Spaces of Encounter in Singapore 」

Professor Brenda S.A. Yeoh

National University of Singapore

Date: August 26, 2019 | 17:30-19:00

Venue: Auditorium, NYU Shanghai

Contemporary postcolonial migration is a compelling force increasing diversity in globalising cities such as Singapore. Amidst multiplicative diversities, processes of  enclavement and encounter along a spectrum of self/other divides, occur alongside those of selective acculturation and negotiated co-existence as people with different histories and geographies meet and take stock of one another in the constant (re)making of divercities. While civility in public spaces (‘ritualised codes of etiquette’) is often taken to be the key litmus test for private prejudices/moralities, it is equally important to rethink the politics of diversity and migrant encounter in private spaces, where ‘the other’ may be strange and unfamiliar, but may well be intimate and even familial. For global cities such as Singapore to develop a truly cosmopolitan urban ethic, not just the conviviality of its streets but the intimacies of its homes need to be ‘places of self-knowledge, not fear’ (Sennett, 2001). 

Introduction and moderation of the Q&A by Joanna Waley-Cohen, Provost and Affiliated Professor of History, NYU Shanghai; Julius Silver Professor of History, NYU. 


& University Communications at NYU Shanghai


& University Communications
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      Phone Number: +86 (21) 20595032

      WeChat: NYUShanghaiCGA

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