"Transnational Asia" registers the intertwined, unstable and unfolding processes that are shaping an emerging world region. Instead of taking an area studies approach, this course identifies key dynamics and contexts of momentous change driven by flows of humans, capital, products, ideas and practices spilling beyond political borders. Besides a particular region of nation-states, 'Asia' is also constituted through multiple and overlapping cultures, communities, and imaginaries of global emergence. The acceleration, inter-connection, and density of flows, circulations, and networks effect novel attitudes, practices and predicaments that are increasingly transnational in scope and substance.
The course explores transnationalism through anthropological lens of everyday practice. There are 4 sections. First, we look at how the cross-border strategies of Asian subjects in search of capital and refuge overseas destabilize established identity schemes in host countries. Second, we consider how circulations of migrant workers and tourists disrupt conventional forms of citizenship, morality and identity in Asian nations. Third, we explore how overseas models of education, consumption and prestige transform middle class family practice, values and affects. Finally, we trace how as an emerging site for exporting models of city planning and art, Asia is gaining a new global presence.
For anthropology majors, the course identifies methodological issues of multi-sited research, and the investigation of social inequalities, ethical quandaries, and political challenges generated by mobilities and recombinations of actors, things, ideas, instutitutions and practices in novel spaces.