If we now live in the “Asian Century,” what and how are we to think about the seeming incongruence of the traditional rickshaw and the high-speed shinkansen? What is the historical context behind the growing and sometimes alarming statistics of Asian motoring, both their production and use? How do we explain the explosion of mobilities, both local and global, in and about Asia? Amid this evident desire to be on the move, the articles in this Special Section begin to tackle some of these questions, by means of exploring three different iterations of organized transport in East and Southeast Asia in the last century. In the process, they seek to provide some answers (and pose further questions) to the conduits through which historical Asia moved, why it did so in the way it did, and whether there was anything qualitatively different in the way Asia embraced its potential to move.
Introduction to the Special Section
M. William Steele and Weiqiang Lin
Deborah Breen and Gijs Mom
“Mobility crisis”: These are the words used by Anumita Roychoudhury, the executive director of Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment, to describe the growing pollution in India, especially in large cities like Delhi, as a result of the dramatic increase in the use of motorized vehicles in the past two decades. Although the population of Delhi and its surrounding cities more than doubled (to twenty-two million) between 1991 and 2011, she points out that registered cars and motorbikes increased fivefold, to eight million.1 Th is growth, along with increased but poorly regulated construction, underinvestment in public transport, and local and national policies that privilege automobiles at the expense of other forms of transport, has resulted in pollution rates that are now, according to a World Health Organization report, the worst in the world.2
Consolidating efforts towards an equitable society
Shirlita Africa Espinosa
From the back alleys of Madrid to the financial capital of Singapore, the migration of peoples either to flee persecution or to pursue a high-stakes transnational job is a global phenomenon. One may even say that the one permanent presence these days is a temporary migrant. The mobility of workers—and the mobility that characterizes the social world in which they live—has always had an economic interpretation manifesting in the antagonism of locals against labor migrants. The issue of migration and the attendant discourses of citizenship, social cohesion, population, resource sharing, employment, criminality, and cultural differences, to mention a few, are a common specter often raised for political maneuvering. To use the migrant subject as a scapegoat for sundry social and economic ills of the “host” society—a term that perpetuates the stereotype of the migrant as parasitical, thus, creating a fitting formula for those who hold power—is integral to the production of their subjectivity as an unwanted sector of a society. Nevertheless, the centrality of migration today in the creation of wealth in advanced economies is very much tied to the role that migrants play in the development strategies of their own nations. Through the billions of dollars transferred through remi ances, migration is regarded as the vehicle of development for countries in the South. But if exporting cheap and temporary labor remains inexpensive as it continues to support the growth of industrialized countries both in the manufacturing and service sectors, including the domestic and affective spheres of the home, then how does migration specifically drive the development of sending countries?
Anders Sybrandt Hansen and Stig Thøgersen
Recent years have seen a tremendous increase in transnational education mobility. The two trends of international integration and marketisation of higher education have made for a situation in which increasing numbers of aspiring young people worldwide seize the opportunity to study abroad as part of their higher education. No other nation sends more students abroad than China. In 2014, 459,800 students left the country to study abroad (Ministry of Education 2015); and 22 per cent of all international students enrolled in tertiary education in OECD countries in 2012 came from China (OECD 2014: 350). To explore the many dimensions of this huge wave of educational migration we hosted a conference at Aarhus University with the title Chinese Students Abroad: Reflections, Strategies and Impacts of a Global Generation in March 2014. The initial versions of the first three articles in this issue by Heidi Ross and Yajing Chen, Kirsten Jæger and Malene Gram, and Qing Gu were presented at this conference.2 The fourth article, by Naomi Yamada, examines the education of ethnic minorities inside China and thereby throws light on another, but related, effect of the marketisation of Chinese education.
Migrants, mobility, and mobilization
Pauline Gardiner Barber and Winnie Lem
This issue brings together the work of researchers who seek to illuminate the class configurations of contemporary global diasporas. Contributions proceed by problematizing the relationship between political mobilization and the class locations of women and men as they negotiate and renegotiate the social conditions under which they make a living as émigrés, people who are subject to and participants in the processes of global change. Although class and culture, as well as mobility and fixity, are often presented as oppositional lenses though which to view global transformations, articles in this issue explore the possibilities for translation of particularized local or cultural concerns into broader collective mobilizations of class activism, nationalist claims, or struggles for entitlement in the circumscribed political spaces migrants seek to create. The gender, ethnic, local, national, and other cultural components of identity and class formation are made explicit as contributors question how and why political struggles and activism may, or indeed may not, be carried forward in geographic and social border crossings as well as citizenship and migration scenarios. It is the contention of each contributor that any instance of activism, and also its absence, requires sustained critical examination of the politics and economics of its production and reproduction.
The middle class-ification of Britain
Jeanette Edwards, Gillian Evans and Katherine Smith
The articles collected in this special section of Focaal capture, ethnographically, a particular moment at the end of the New Labour project when the political consequences of a failure to address the growing sense of crisis among working-class people in post-industrial Britain are being felt. These new ethnographies of social class in Britain reveal not only disenchantment and disenfranchisement, but also incisive and critical commentary on the shifting and often surprising forms and experiences of contemporary class relations. Here we trace the emergence of controversies surrounding the category “white working class“ and what it has come to stand for, which includes the vilification of people whose political, economic and social standing has been systematically eroded by the economic policies and political strategies of both Conservative and New Labour governments. The specificities of class discourse in Britain are also located relative to broader changes that have occurred across Europe with the rise of “cultural fundamentalisms“ and a populist politics espousing neo-nationalist rhetorics of ethnic solidarity. This selection of recent ethnographies holds up a mirror to a rapidly changing political landscape in Britain. It reveals how post-Thatcherite discourses of “the individual“, “the market“, “social mobility“ and “choice“ have failed a significant proportion of the working-class population. Moreover, it shows how well anthropology can capture the subtle and complex forms of collectivity through which people find meaning in times of change.
As announced in our most recent editorial, this issue of Transfers features a series of reflections on the role of movement and mobilities in the fields of history of science, technology, and medicine. Four major collaborative projects in different stages of completion are introduced: “Moving Crops and the Scales of History”; “Individual Itineraries and the Circulation of Scientific and Technical Knowledge in China (16th–20th Centuries)”; “Migrating Knowledge”; and “Itineraries of Materials, Recipes, Techniques, and Knowledge in the Early Modern World.” Over the past few years, historical research on scientific and technological change and movement has altered substantially in form and content. Many projects have taken on a collaborative format as globalization and global exchange methodologies advanced and brought about an increased awareness of geographies, cultural differences, and postcolonial debate but also as sources became increasingly visible and available through digital means and researchers themselves became more mobile. The four examples selected can inevitably provide only a glimpse into this changing landscape and were chosen as offering a representative geographic coverage of European and US American scholarship in which, however, colleagues from a wide range of areas including India, South America, and Asia were involved.
Sabina Barone, Veronika Bernard, Teresa S Büchsel, Leslie Fesenmyer, Bruce Whitehouse, Petra Molnar, Bonny Astor and Olga R. Gulina
THE REFUGEE CRISIS AND RELIGION: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question Edited by Luca Mavelli and Erin K. Wilson. London and New York: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017. 305 pages, ISBN 9781783488940
MUSLIMISCHE DIVERSITÄT: Ein Kompass zur religiösen Alltagspraxis in Österreich [Muslim Diversity: A Guide to Religious Everyday Practices in Austria] Wiener Beiträge zur Islamforschung series. Edited by Ednan Aslan, Jonas Kolb, and Erol Yildiz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2017. 506 pages, ISBN 9783658175535 (print); 9783658175542 (e-book)
BUREAUCRACY, LAW AND DYSTOPIA IN THE UNITED KINGDOM’S ASYLUM SYSTEM John R. Campbell. London: Routledge, 2017. 202 pages, ISBN 978113821495
ETHNIC CHURCH MEETS MEGACHURCH: Indian American Christianity in Motion Prema A. Kurien. New York: New York University Press, 2017. 281 pages, ISBN 9781479804757 (hardback); 9781479826377 (paperback)
FORGING AFRICAN COMMUNITIES: Mobility, Integration and Belonging Edited by Oliver Bakewell and Loren B. Landau. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 321 pages, ISBN 9781137581938 (hardcover); 9781137581945 (e-book)
DETAINING THE IMMIGRANT OTHER: Global and Transnational Issues Edited by R. Furman, D. Epps, and G. Lamphear. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 220 pages, ISBN 9780190222574 (hardback)
THIS IS LONDON: Life and Death in the World City Ben Judah. London: Picador, 2016. 423 pages, ISBN 9781447272441 (hardback); 9781447274797 (paperback)
THE ROAD TO SOMEWHERE: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics David Goodhart. London: Penguin Books, 2017. 278 pages, ISBN 9780141986975 (paperback); 9780141986982 (e-book)
THE GOOD IMMIGRANT Edited by Nikesh Shukla. London: Unbound, 2017. 254 pages, ISBN 9781783522958 (hardback); 9781783522965 (e-book)
THE SOVIET PASSPORT: Its History—Structure—Practices Albert Baiburin. St. Petersburg: Publishing House of the European University in St. Petersburg, 2017. 488 pages, ISBN 978-94380-232-4 (In Russian: Советский паспорт. История- структура- практики. СпБ: Издательство Европейского университета. Альберт Байбурин, 2017. 488. / Sovetskiy pasport. Istoriya- strukturapraktiki. SpB: Izdatel’stvo Yevropeyskogo universiteta, Albert Baiburin, 2017. 488)