Call for Papers | Asian Connections: Linking Mobilities of Capital and Labour in Theory and Practice

May 12th-13th 2017
York University
Toronto, Canada

Deadline for Paper Proposals: October 31, 2016

Capitalist development in all parts of the world has always been characterized by the restless mobility of both capital and labour, in search of profit and livelihood respectively. Capital, in the form of transnational corporate organizations, may relocate or outsource production for various reasons including supply chain configurations, market access, regulatory considerations or labour cost, skill and availability. Workers may move in search of employment, security, career advancement or entrepreneurial opportunities. These two forms of mobility are not, however, unconnected: capital flows may attract inward migration to employment opportunities; transnational corporations may rely on the mobility of expatriate staff; the new jobs and wealth that rounds of corporate investment bring, along with disruptions of social structures, may enable or induce outward migration; new corporate investment patterns may follow earlier migrations; and capital and labour mobility may be controlled through the same regulatory frameworks such as trade agreements, albeit in different ways. The mobilities of capital and labour are, then, often linked and yet they are usually researched as separate phenomena. Saskia Sassen’s comment almost three decades ago, that the two processes of capital and labour mobility “have been constructed into unrelated categories” (1988:12), still largely holds true.

This workshop seeks to reunite the study of corporate and migrant transnationalisms by exploring how they are causally or structurally connected in the context of cross-border mobilities of capital and labour into, out of, and within, Asia. The workshop aims to generate new insights by bringing together scholars working in diverse theoretical frameworks, disciplinary traditions, methodologies, historical periods and geographical contexts.

Questions and topics might include (but are not limited to):
• How does temporary migrant labour central to corporate strategy in certain sectors?
• How is development in sites of new industrialization connected to processes of outmigration?
• How do multi-level institutions influence the processes of capital and labour mobility into, from and within Asia?
• How do the interactions of capital and labour mobilities compare across North-South versus South-South flows? How do migrations shape investment patterns?
• How do large diasporas shift corporate strategies in sending countries?
• Is corporate mobility dependent on expat employee mobility?
• What are the historical legacies of historical transnational corporate structures on post-colonial mobilities of capital and labour?

The format of the workshop will feature detailed discussion and feedback on 12 individual papers over two days. The goal of the workshop is to produce an edited collection or journal special issue from a selection of papers presented.

Travel and accommodation expenses for selected participants in the workshop will be covered.

We hope to attract participants at all career academic career stages with a strong track record of research and publication related to the theme of the workshop.

Submission of Proposals

Paper proposals can be sent to and and should include:
1) a title and abstract (250 words maximum) and 2) a CV or personal statement indicating a record of research and publication related to the workshop theme. The deadline for submission of these items to the workshop organizers is October 31, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by December 1, 2016 and will be asked to send in a completed draft paper (5,000-8,000 words) by April 1, 2017.

Conference Organizers

Dr Preet Aulakh, Professor of Strategy and International Business
Pierre Lassonde Chair in International Business, Schulich School of Business, York University. E-mail:

Dr Philip Kelly, Professor of Geography, and Director, York Centre for Asian Research York University. Email: