Edited Book Project: Call for Contributions

Dear all, I am writing to invite contributions for an edited book that I am working on with Palgrave MacMillan titled, 19 Letters to Coronavirus: International Student Mobilities and Voices of the Asia-Pacific. The book has received approval and a contract is being issued by Palgrave MacMillan.

This call is an invitation for international students in and from the Asia-Pacific region to contribute essays about their experiences relating to education and mobility in the time of a pandemic. The essay will be written in the first person, as a letter addressed to Coronavirus, and adhere to a length of about 1,500 words.

Who can contribute?

  • 18 years old and above
  • Students of any nationality from the Asia-Pacific region pursuing overseas education outside of their countries of origin
  • International students of any nationality enrolled in a tertiary education institution located in the Asia-Pacific region

A total of 19 essays will be selected for inclusion in the edited book. These essays will be organised into 9 chapters addressing various themes under the sections of regimes, experiences, and aspirations. Each chapter comprises 2 essays (one of which will have 3), a guest illustration, and a guest scholarly commentary. In preparing your abstract and essay, you are strongly encouraged to focus on one of the themes below:

Section 1. Regimes: borders, norms, and divisions

  • Chapter 1. Borders: explores how old and new borders have (re)emerged during the pandemic to impact upon how students and young people view the world, as well as engage with traveling practices.
  • Chapter 2. Norms: explores the way the pandemic has shifted norms in education and mobility, and whether the worlds of student mobility and education are indeed headed towards a “new normal”.
  • Chapter 3. Divisions: explores how the pandemic has allowed for new divisions and tensions to emerge around geopolitics as well as embodied cultures of race and nationality.

Section 2. Experiences: emotions, velocity, and habits

  • Chapter 4. Emotions: focuses on the emotional responses of students and young people towards the pandemic, and how such feelings and moods in turn shape their experiences of education and mobility.
  • Chapter 5. Velocity: recasts experiences through individual senses about velocity and speed, and explores how the pandemic has reconfigured the way young people experience the times and spaces of education and mobility.
  • Chapter 6. Habits: explores the everyday habits of young people being shaped by the pandemic, and the ways they negotiate such expected and unexpected shifts in habitual routines.

Section 3. Aspirations: suspension, threshold, and freedom

  • Chapter 7. Suspension: explores the ways in which young people’s experiences are being forced into suspension, and how they cope with such temporary halt to the plans and goals they chart out prior to the pandemic.
  • Chapter 8. Threshold: explores the imaginative thresholds that young people construct in relation to their aspirations alongside the strategies and tactics they use to maintain or recalibrate such thresholds in the face of pandemic-driven limits and obstacles.
  • Chapter 9. Freedom: focuses on how young people experience freedom in both imaginative and material ways during the pandemic, and how education and mobility play a role in shaping such experiences.

If you are interested in contributing to the book, please submit an essay proposal to book editor, Yi’En Cheng (yien.cheng@nus.edu.sg), and include:

1. Title of essay

2. Chapter and theme that your essay contributes towards

3. Summary of your letter content (no more than 250 words)

4. Note on whether images will be included

5. Short bio including your name and affiliation

Proposals should be submitted by: 15 December 2020.

Confirmed contributors will be notified by 25 December 2020. Essays are expected to be submitted by 15 February 2021.

Work for remaining components of the book (i.e. scholarly commentaries and Introduction and Conclusion) will take place between February and August 2021, aiming towards the completion of book manuscript by November 2021.

Asian Migrations in COVID-19 Times Webinar Series: International Student Mobilities

I am very excited and pleased to be moderating this webinar, as part of the Asian Migrations in COVID-19 Times Series hosted by Asia Research Institute.

Given the global relevance of this topic, I have scheduled the webinar at a time that hopefully captures audiences from various parts of the world. Looking forward to these two fascinating talks by early career scholars who are conducting important research on Asia Pacific international student mobilities, where they not only share new research but also reflect upon the impacts on the current global pandemic on the student flows they study.


Dr Yi’En Cheng | National University of Singapore

PRESENTATION I | How will Africa-China Educational Migration be Affected by COVID-19?
Mr Benjamin Mulvey | Education University of Hong Kong

PRESENTATION II | “I Will Continue My Studies Here Even After COVID” :
Visiblising International Students in the Fringes – Korean Case
Ms Sarah Domingo Lipura | University of Auckland, New Zealand


17:30 END



International students in post covid-19 higher education

Many international students in different parts of the world have been struck hard by the pandemic-driven tightening of border management, causing them to be stranded and left in a state of limbo. Caught in the midst of visa regulations and lack of financial support which are compounded by a sense of alienation in host societies, international students are some of the hardest-hit young people during this current pandemic.

In a recent piece by Craig Jeffrey on university students as a generation of youth affected by the COVID-19, he proposes that “youth hardship provides a basis for thinking about how universities might go about engaging with a generation of young people whose life maps are disintegrating”. Three particularly striking themes from this important and timely article, namely hardship, vulnerable economic position, and innovation, resonate significantly with the fate of international students during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I would like to offer some ideas about how international students can be folded into this pertinent discussion about youth hardship and, in doing so, point to the salience of a “migration” and “transnational” lens in cutting through some of the ideas raised.

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