In their 1994 book, Nations Unbound, Linda Basch, Nina Glick Schiller, and Cristina Blanc-Szanton wrote:
We define “transnationalism” as the processes by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origins and settlement. We call these processes transnationalism to emphasize that many immigrants today build social fields that cross geographic, cultural, and political borders. (Nations Unbound, Basel: Gordon and Breach, 1994, p.7)
More than twenty years later, we readily recognize that the above description captures our reality. This reality, however, is not necessarily a happy one. Millions of individuals and families are being forced to leave their ancestral home due to armed conflict, famine, and persecution. Millions more are driven out of their land due to natural disaster of all kinds or environmental crises and pollution at the hands of multinational corporations. Mothers of poor countries often have to leave their children in the care of others, in order to work as a nurse-maid to rich families abroad. Fathers, once taken into labor camp abroad, even lose access to their passport so as not to be able to make their trip home upon their will. After short, mostly inadequate resettlement packages, refugees are left to survive on their own in an unknown land. Children and the young are trafficked to be put to work as sexual and other forms of slaves. Transnationalism in itself does not, therefore, deserve to be blindly celebrated. On the contrary, in today’s economic mechanism, where the top 1 percent of the world’s wealthy is becoming exponentially wealthier, transnational moves of millions of humans contribute to the further strengthening of this enduring disparity.
At the same time, the unprecedented scale of the transnational movement of millions reflects human tenacity, creativity, and the will to live. These moves also produce new knowledge, new forms of life, and new communities. The journal aims to address this complexity, working around and against, yet at the same time, critically dealing with national boundaries, in order to precisely capture transnational Asia and beyond.
On another level, transnational moves of humans, goods, and ideas, while often conceived as a contemporary or modern phenomenon, have always existed in varying scales and degrees in human history. In fact, human history itself has been fundamentally underscored by massive mobility prior to the discovery of agriculture or state formation. As such, our journal aims to think about history from a transnational perspective. True, not all historical moves have concerned national boundaries; not all historical moves even postdated the emergence of nation-states. Still, massive expeditions far and broad, religious exoduses, invasion, persecution, and colonialism brought different peoples together and drove other peoples apart. These are the themes that interest our journal.
Finally, but not least importantly, we concern ourselves with Asia. The Asia built upon transnational and transhistorical premises challenges the existing acceptance of boundaries—be it national, economic, religious, caste, ideological, gender, or cultural. We are interested in encouraging scholarly engagement and exchange that actively discusses, disrupts, and questions the authenticity of social boundaries, stasis of class division, enduring economic disparity, unyielding cultural dominance, and other forms of lasting (or what seems to be lasting) inequalities and injustices and how these impact Asia and beyond, that is to say, the world concerning Asia, related to Asia, in transactions with Asia, and driven by Asia. Such an Asia, or transnational Asia, encompasses diasporic and transmigrational Asia, including Asian America. We welcome articles that concern the aforementioned themes by way of presenting and analyzing new data, critically re-interpreting the existing models and data, and theorizing the current and historical knowledge. In particular, articles that are challenging the existing conventions such as a divide between Asian and Asian American studies will be our priority. In promoting our understanding of new, transnational Asia, we insist upon interdisciplinarity and therefore, we welcome submissions of articles from scholars that are in the fields including (but not limited to): anthropology, Asian studies, Asian American studies, communication studies, digital humanities, ethics, film and cinema studies, gender studies, geography, global health, history, philosophy of science, religion, science and technology studies, sociology, and theology. Articles that are produced by way of scholarly collaboration between two or more disciplines will be particularly welcome.