Organized Panel Session
In 2015, the United Nations estimated a total of 244 million international migrants across the globe, with Asia serving not only as the largest region of origin but as the fastest growing region of destination. Foregrounding the growing population movement in Asia, this panel examines the contemporary drivers, patterns, and issues in Asian migrations and mobilities, including forced migration, the feminization of labor migration, international education migration, and diasporic return. The papers in this panel apply the concept of “Asia as method” (Chen 2010) to anchor our analyses in the region’s histories and political, economic, and sociocultural transformations. Highlighting Asia as a point of reference, this panel invites the theorizations of mobilities and migrations that is grounded in Asian experiences and conceptualizes “discrepant mobilities” to include cross-border movements that challenge prevailing paradigms in international migration that are based largely on research in North America. Examining the Rohingya crisis, D. Mitra Barua establishes how contemporary mobilities in Asia are profoundly tied to the region’s colonial and postcolonial history; Maria Hwang’s analysis of migrant sex workers’ “transient mobility” illustrates the cross-border and gender dynamics of irregular migration in the region; Carolyn Choi’s paper on the temporary migration of English-language learners unpacks the rise and contradictions of intra-Asian international education migration; and finally, Stephen Suh’s study on Korean American “returnee” entrepreneurs highlights the ways in which diasporic return to Asia complicates conceptualizations of ethnic identity, citizenship, and diaspora, as well as challenges strictly rational-economic framings of immigrant entrepreneurship.