The Inter-Asia Engagements (formerly known as Metacluster: Asian Connections) approaches Asia as a non-monolithic construct of continental land masses, maritime and archipelagic circuits, and populous communities. There is a need to reference Asia not just to spaces outside Asia (such as the Euro-American world) but also in terms of the connectivities and complex relationships, historical and contemporary, that bind and shape the region itself. With increasing interconnectedness, interdependence and the rise of Global Asia in world geopolitics and political economy, Asia needs to be placed at centre stage, but utilizing a new mode of thinking that emphasizes linkages instead of regionally-exclusive units that characterized the traditional area-studies approach.
Focusing on transnational and transregional connectivities, but not precluding in-between secondary paths and modes of nodal interaction, two broad and fluid geographical corridors of attention are envisaged: The west-east axis of Arabian Peninsula-South Asia-Southeast Asia-East Asia and the north-south axis of Central Asia-Northeast Asia-Southeast Asia. Research on the former at ARI is undergirded in particular by the ARI Muhammad Alagil Arabia Asia Studies Endowment and both are informed by the Inter-Asia Initiative spearheaded by the US SSRC and its consortium of university partners, including NUS ARI.
The current research agenda of the Inter-Asia Engagements cluster is to explore empirical and conceptual issues relating to regional and locality challenges to contemporary global capitalism, dilemmas of environment-society relations, dynamics of Arabian-Indian-Chinese diasporas, circulatory and transnational flows in the reframing of sovereignty and nationalism, as well as reconfigurations of contact zones and frontier assemblages.
Asia Research Institute & Department of Geography