The present volume explores a wide variety of Afrasian transformations in the social world as well as in academic practice and maps out arenas such as development politics, South-South cooperation, cultural memory, mobile lifeworlds and transcultural connectivity where these transformations have already produced startling results. The contributions to this volume eschew grand narratives such as ‘the revival of South-South solidarity’ or ‘China’s new colonisation of Africa’ and instead seek to come to terms with the ambivalences, contradictions, and potential benefits entailed in Afrasian transformations – that are also altering our understanding of (trans)area in an increasingly globalized world. In this volume, ‘Afrasia’ neither denotes a new territorial container nor a new geopolitical mega-area, but stands for an emerging space of connective interaction and a new heuristics for coming to terms with entangled areas and intertwined histories in a decentred world that can no longer be grasped through the Eurocentric categories that dominated the theory and practice of area studies for so long.
The contributions to this volume share a concern with the conceptual innovations required to sustain a transregional perspective and seek to explore possibilities of new transregional practices of ‘doing area’ from below that move beyond the habitual corridors of North-South relations into the wider – if often puzzling – terrain of South-South interactions in an increasingly multipolar world. It is on this terrain that the Afrasian stories of social, political, economic, and cultural interactions – of African viewers of Philippine telenovelas, of ‘fake’ and ‘original’ motorcycles in Burkina Faso, of Cameroonian villagers selling possibly invented traditions to Chinese mining operators, and of African students’ dreams of world class education in Malaysia – are played out. Understanding Afrasian transformations in the social world means learning to orientate oneself on this terrain – and continuing to transform the theoretical frameworks that inform our disciplinary knowledges.