- Guest Editors' Introduction:Inter-Asian Capital Circulations, Cultural Transformations, and Methodological Positions
This issue, "Decentering 'Globalized' Asia," highlights the work of rising scholars whose research provides new perspectives on the multidimensional transformations occurring in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Drawing inspiration from the Social Science Research Council's 2008 call to take seriously inter-Asian connections, this issue crosses traditional area studies boundaries to create a new dialogue within Asian studies. The authors provide empirical evidence of cross-border exchanges that produce diverse forms of urban development, governance, modes of inclusion and exclusion, and social protest. The pieces shift Asia to the center of innovative scholarship on the changing geography of global culture, economy, and politics by describing how cross-border transformations play out at the regional, national, and local levels.
Over the last two decades, Asian studies has worked to free itself from [End Page 633] the gaze of Western niche scholarship through a process of "decolonization" and "deimperialization" (Chen 2010). Following Edward Soja's (1989) call for a postmodern geography that rejects "deep logics" and constructs a new "language of representation," these scholars have rejected old allegiances to and resentments of Western imperialism through a project of "inter-Asian referencing" (Iwabuchi 2014). Such inter-referencing involves taking Asia as the "horizon" for examining the present in relation to the past and for articulating global connections (Chen 2010). "Asia" is no longer the subject of analysis but the method of historicizing contemporary local phenomena and global relations.
The method of inter-Asian referencing is enabled by the end of Cold War isolationism and the inception of globalization, a set of "capital-driven forces which seek to penetrate and decolonize all spaces on the earth with unchecked freedom" (Chen 2010: 4). In recent decades, Asia has been increasingly central to processes of globalization, expanding the "horizon" of inter-Asian analysis. Contemporary East Asia's economic "miracle" coincided with the opening of geopolitical borders and finance markets throughout Asia as well as the financial crisis in the West. East Asia has replaced the United States and Western Europe as the greatest source of foreign direct investment in Southeast Asia (Hoang 2015; Nam 2011; Ong 2011). This capital development diverted existing channels for the movement of people among less developed and more developed countries in Asia (Oishi 2005); it also facilitated the instantaneous dissemination of ideas and images across places once considered spatially and culturally distinct (Harvey 1989). Thus, contemporary Asia is constructed by and constructs transnational social space "from above" and "from below" (Kivisto 2003).
The authors in this issue examine how transnational spaces within Asia allow for the simultaneous enactment of global cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and localism (Roudometof 2005). The dialogue between global and local is not a new phenomenon in Asia; Roland Robertson (1995) coined his famous term glocalization by adapting for English the Japanese term dochakuka, which referred to a popular business strategy of adapting Japanese products to suit local tastes in other parts of the world (Khondker 2004). Asia provides a critical space to conceptualize the "complex character" of systems of postmodern mobility, which depend upon "multiple fixities or [End Page 634] moorings often on a substantial physical scale" (Sheller and Urry 2006: 210). "Decentering 'Globalized' Asia" describes the fixing of place and identity alongside the material and cultural fluidities this fixing enables.
The issue begins with two articles that examine inter-Asian circulations of capital and their effects on local urban spatial forms (by Sylvia Nam and Hun Kim). These pieces take seriously the conceptualization of Asia as a specific "milieu of intervention," formed and re-formed through what John Allen and Allan Cochrane (2010) have called "parts elsewhere." Aligned with Eugene McCann, Ananya Roy, and Kevin Ward's (2013) observation that these parts elsewhere "are often Asianscapes, deterritorialized images of Asian capitalism through which new territories of accumulation and hegemony are produced," these two articles respectively outline the architectures of power in Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. They show that contemporary capital flows cannot be disembodied and dehistoricized because investments are always socially and emotionally embedded, involving inputs of not...