The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

Illegal but licit: transnational flows and permissive polities in Asia

Barak Kalir

Transnational flows are regularly studied in the social sciences ‘from above’, focusing on the power of states to regulate, facilitate or hinder the movement of people across borders. The research project ‘Illegal but Licit’, while sharing with other studies an emphasis on the changing role of states in shaping transnational flows, ventured into the exploration of these flows by prioritizing two important points of departure. First, the project treated the state, however important, as just one source of authority among many, to which mobile subjects potentially heed. Second, the project championed ethnographic methods for getting at a better understanding of the aggregated ‘big picture’ of state authorities and transnational flows.


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