Historical research has recently found new interest in aviation and aeromobilities. Though productive, these discussions have mostly concentrated on knowledge frames emanating from the 'West.' This article surveys the limited range of literatures that highlight how 'other' societies perceive and (re)appropriate flight. In particular, we refer to examples from Asia to demonstrate that actors from this region likewise interact with ideas of aerial imperialism, geopolitical struggles, and nationalism. These studies prompt key historiographical questions on power, agency, and relations between the West and the non-West. They also promote a scholarship that is more reflexive about its centers of knowledge.
Marielle Stigum Gleiss and Weiqiang Lin
Introduction to the Special Section
M. William Steele and Weiqiang Lin
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.