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Moving towards a better normal: Defining mobility, human rights & freedoms in a post-pandemic Southeast Asia

Who: A collaboration between Routed Magazine and SHAPE-SEA:

  • Routed Magazine is an online publication on migration and (im)mobility. Bridging the divide between specialist academic literature on human mobility and popular portrayals of migration in the media, Routed Magazine hopes to bring a fresh, critical perspective to the study of how and why people move, as well as the contexts of mobility.

  • Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Research & Education in ASEAN/Southeast Asia Programme (SHAPE-SEA) is run by its two founding Southeast Asian academic networks, the ASEAN University Network-Human Rights Education Theme (AUN-HRE) and the Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network (SEAHRN). Launched in 2015, it envisions a Southeast Asia where the culture and values of human rights, peace and democracy are instilled and sustained through applied research, teaching in higher education institutions, and informed public advocacy.

What: A special issue, on the theme of ‘Moving towards a better normal: Defining mobility, human rights & freedoms in a post-pandemic Southeast Asia’, to be published in February 2022

COVID-19 experiences in Southeast Asia are marked by protracted public health emergencies, socio-political disruptions, and economic crises. Among the issues that persist in the region are unequal access to public health services and vaccines, as well as democratic backsliding. The heightened securitisation of societies has severely crippled individuals and communities, particularly those living at the margins. The pandemic and mobility restrictions have especially impacted vulnerable people, such as migrant workers, stateless persons, those who seek refuge from conflict zones, residents in rural and remote areas, persons with disabilities, people living in troubled or violent households, and those who are socio-economically deprived.  

In the efforts to design the ‘new normal’, it is vital to elevate and include voices from the ground, specifically in relation to freedom of movement and the rights of people on the move seeking better opportunities and a decent life. How we perceive and portray the vulnerable plays a critical role in moving towards healthier, more equal, and freer Southeast Asian societies. Furthermore, narratives exposing structural inequalities may present insights into how people develop social strategies in order to move and survive in a post-pandemic region. Hence, this special issue serves to foster critical consciousness on lived experiences of (im)mobility, human rights, and freedoms, as well as ways to achieve a better normal for all in Southeast Asia. 


Contributors are invited to reflect and respond to the following guide questions:

  • How has COVID-19 impacted lived experiences and trends of (im)mobility in Southeast Asia?

  • What are the social, political and/or economic impacts induced or exacerbated by the pandemic in relation to the nexus between mobility, rights and freedoms?

  • How is the new normal perceived on the ground, particularly by those made vulnerable by the COVID-19 crisis?

  • What can be done to achieve a new, better normal with respect to the rights of people on the move and/or freedom of movement in the region?

We are particularly interested in publishing work that lifts up the voices of people on the move and exploring (im)mobility in its many varied forms. For this issue, we especially encourage writers from and based in Southeast Asia to submit their proposals.


We are also keen on receiving pieces that analyse current news about migration and (im)mobility, or reflect on cultural developments related to these topics.


Articles should address a broad audience, made of experts and non-experts, and should be originally written in English or Spanish.

When: The deadline for proposals is 2 January 2022.

How: If you are interested in proposing a submission for this issue, please send us a short abstract no longer than 250 words via email to: We would also like to hear about your relationship to migration and mobility (if you are a migrant, a researcher, a student, a practitioner...).

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Article guidelines:

  1. The length of the piece should be between 700 and 1000 words.

  2. The article should consistently use British spelling and grammar, if you’re writing in English.

  3. The simpler the language the better. Try to briefly explain or add links to any concepts, organisations, policies… introduced in the article.

  4. Concepts and cited works/legislation/articles should be inserted in the article as hyperlinks.

  5. All acronyms should be specified in parentheses.

Some notes on the publication process:

  1. Once you send us your proposal, we will get back to you after the deadline for all submissions (2 January 2022).

  2. First drafts are due on 21 January, for publication on 19 February. After you send us your first draft, your editor will get back to you with their comments, which you will review before publication.
  3. The article will be translated and promoted on social media.
  4. We understand this topic may be highly sensitive. If any writer wishes to remain anonymous, we commit to protecting their identity.

  5. Please be aware that any opinions you express in your article will be yours alone and not reflect Routed's or SHAPE-SEA’s general stance.

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