The papers in this panel interrogate some of the most recent trends of internal and international migration in Asian societies, which challenge and reconceptualize established theories and concepts of migration and displacement. In particular, our panelists question the demarcations between voluntary migration and forced displacement, transient migration and permanent settlement, and internal migration and diaspora by contemplating both the nexus and the permeable boundaries between the varied processes of mobility and immobility. Drawing on nuanced case studies from three societies in Asia, this panel also explores the increasingly complex ways in which the state, the market, and civil societies interact to facilitate, suspend, and disrupt migration. Despite the fact that experiences of migration and displacement vary across space and time, this panel highlights the consistent role that past, present, and potential migrants play in sustaining the global economy and regional development as well as the precariousness and vulnerability of their existence.
Jotaro Kato considers how voluntary transnational laborers in Japan can be involuntarily displaced in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and exposes the disposability and replaceability of migrant bodies in the perpetual motion of the global capitalist machine. Renu Pariyadath bridges the often-separated discussions of internal migration and diaspora by theorizing the discursive linkage between highly privileged transnational Indian migrant activists and stranded internal labor migrants in India before and during the pandemic. Zi Yan rethinks the theory of integration through an exploration of the unexpected consequences of China’s flagship initiative, the Poverty Alleviation Resettlement program, which has uprooted over 9 million impoverished rural inhabitants and turned them into mobile subjects. Lastly, Yang Zhan points out that mobile bodies can also be rendered immobile by similar development projects. Former migrant youth may enter an indefinite period of reconfigured suspension after they acquire formal urban residency and end their protracted mobility. The diverse disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological approaches adopted in these studies will update and complicate our knowledge about migrations in Global Asia and make valuable contributions to migration theories.
Paper Presenter: Zi Yan – Waseda University
Paper Presenter: Renu Pariyadeth
Paper Presenter: Yang Zhan – Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Paper Presenter: Jotaro Kato – Institute of Asian Migrations, Waseda University