Special Issue: Vol 61, No. 1, July 2024


SPECIAL ISSUE: SARE Vol 61, No 1, July 2024.


“Faces of Precarity: Restructuring Care-mentality in Asia” 

Guest Editors: Dr Om Prakash Dwivedi, Dr Isha Malhotra

Our everyday life is defined by what we do. These actions are vital to the meaning of both the present and the future. The future lies in the now, and hence we need to nourish this now, the present moment, with intimacy, social engagement, aesthetic education, and resilience. That is to say, the future of the planet and possibilities of life conditions for human and more-than-human survival need to be invested with components of care and repair right here, right now.
However, the post-1990s has marked a turn to more rigid forms of suppression and disruption of the elements of care. Perhaps, a case can be made that the neoliberal regime has rendered a transformation from care-mentality to governmentality - precisely the reason why Margaret Thatcher went on to claim that there is no such thing as society: “There are individual men and women and there are families, and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.”
Consequently, social infrastructures were rendered fragile, and, in many countries, they were even devoured. The extractive nature of the neoliberal regime led to the emergence of precarious lives. It also led to the onslaught of rapacious colonization of the planet. Likewise, many scholars, including Amitav Ghosh, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Achille Mbembe, ask us to reconsider our relationship with the planet, to become more cognizant of the lurking threat of destruction or extinction that awaits us if we remain inactive. They advance the need to think more collectively, and to create modes of care and repair of what Wai Chee Dimock (2020) terms the “weak planet”, where the “baseline condition” of humans and other forms of life is vulnerability and susceptibility to harm. Dimock advocates human agency in initiating interactions and collaborations for resilience building, because “these precarious mediations release us from paralysis, sustaining hope in a future still unforeclosed, weakly but meaningfully open to our efforts” (12)
This special issue of SARE: Southeast Asian Review of English, “Faces of Precarity: Restructuring Care-mentality in Asia,” seeks to identify and debate different forms of precarity that pervade our planetary life. It aims to discuss the relevance of care in our daily lives that has the potential to mitigate the disruptions caused by extractive economies. We identify care not just as an affective mode; rather it is to be seen as an action and process that hold possibilities to create sustainable futures.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
• healthcare privatisation
• urbanisation and precarity
• migration and neoliberal labour market
• digital trauma and care aesthetics
• intersections with disability studies
• ageing population and neoliberal ageing policies
• food security and hunger
• conflict, trauma and healing
• environmental precarity
• consumerism and materialism
• mental health
• social media, self-care, identity
• post-work society
• post-biopolitical porous entities
• postgenomic body-politics
• the politics, and ethics of care
• trans-corporeal ethics
• queer identities
• hope and utopia
• neoliberalism and socioeconomic equality
We solicit articles that deal with the above-mentioned themes via literature, popular culture, and cinema. Articles should not exceed 6000 words. Kindly submit an abstract of 150 – 200 words with 6 keywords.

Abstract submission deadline: October 15, 2023
Article submission deadline: February 28, 2024
Final draft submission: April 30, 2024
Publication date: June end, 2024




Religion, Secularism and Nationalism: Literature of South Asia”

Guest Editors: Nukhbah Taj Langah and Goutam Karmakar

The history of colonization has significantly impacted the understanding of three key terms within the context of South Asia: religion, secularism, and nationalism. Considering the fact that the idea of civic nationalism as a political formation is arguably a Western liberal construct that is intricately linked to imperial legacies, the overarching question remains how religion has convoluted the secular and nationalistic perceptions within the South Asian context. Religion and nationalism in South Asia are frequently determined by the racist rhetoric of certain communities and the extremist rhetoric of fundamentalism and religious fanaticism; minority politics; issues of caste, class, and ethnic identity; border politics; pseudo-secular overtones coupled with liminality; rhetoric of war and violence; right-wing politics; defensive strategies and essentialism; and diaspora and ambivalence, among others.

Based on such a convoluted context, this special issue seeks to explicate how the rich religious, political, and cultural dynamics of South Asia remain entwined with questions such as: how can democratic processes be implemented in independent states by separating politics from religion? How do certain literary texts depict the notion of nationalism expanding beyond the concept of a single nation due to the intricate ethnic, regional, and cultural offshoots? How does the idea of nations within a (independent) nation create the need for a broader understanding of nationalism? How does religious mobilization in South Asian literary narratives become a carrier of culture within and beyond South Asian countries? How can (mis)conceptions regarding religious fundamentalism be understood through the policies and politics of secularism and postcolonial nationalism? In what ways does religion in the South Asian literary landscape play a significant part in the creation of political structures and secular democracies in South Asia?

Addressing these pertinent questions, this SARE special issue aims to explore the representation of "Religion, Secularism and Nationalism" in contemporary South Asian literature. This special issue aims to investigate the extent to which religious and national identities are regarded as potent dimensions of social participation in South Asian literature. This special issue also intends to probe deeper into literary and theoretical studies of particular authors and writings to locate how religions in South Asia enhance cohesiveness among all creed-sharing adherents, regardless of their geopolitics, and how countries assert a unity of those sharing attributes, such as linguistic, racial, and ethnic diversity, within a particular geo/demography. The crucial questions raised above evidently invite us to explore the layers of identity and representation issues deeply rooted in the highly charged historical and political context of South Asia. This can be approached through the literary and cultural analysis of diverse literary productions. Contemporary South Asian literature remains significantly impacted by this dense socio-political and cultural context. Hence, themes concerning nationalism, evolving identity concerns, and resistance are reflected in the works of many South Asian writers, including: Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Rabindranath Tagore, Khushwant Singh, Rabisankar Bal, Taslima Nasreen, Kazi Nazurul Islam, Saadat Hasan Manto, Bapsi Sidhwa, Fehmida Riaz, Jameel Ahmed, Kamila Shamsie, Mohammad Hanif, Sri Nissanka, Lakdasa Wikkramasinha, Yasmin Goonerante Manjushree Thapa, Lekhnath Paudyal, Lakshmi Prasad Devkota, Prasad Koirala, Balkrishna Sama, Khaled Hosseni, Husain Salaahuddheen, Bodufenvalhuge Sidi, Ibrahim Shihab, Saikuraa Ibrahim Naeeem, and many more writers belonging to the peripheries.

We invite critical academic debates from scholars interested in exploring such challenges emerging from South Asia as represented through their primary focus on literary discourses. The thematic focus may include but is not limited to the following areas of interest reflecting through South Asian literature:

Evolving dynamics of South Asian identity

Redefining nationhood and nationalism

Tradition vs modern South Asia

Religion vs. nationalism

Place, identity and ethnic nationalism

Gender, religion and identity

Redefining Nationalism(s)

Secularism and the formation of the nation-states

South Asian Diaspora and nationalism

Ethno-nationalism and nationhood

Language, Identity and Nationalism

Religious minorities and politics of otherization

Secularism and postcolonial nationalism

Religious fundamentalism and extremism

Right-wing Politics in South Asia

Religion, war, and nationalism

Articles & Book Reviews

This SARE issue invites scholarly articles (5000 and 7000 words), and book reviews (not more than 1500 words) addressing the themes suggested above.

Creative-Non-Fiction & Poetry

We are also inviting creative prose/non-fiction and poetry (originally written in English and/or translated from other South Asian languages) related to the thematic focus of this issue. Creative non-fiction should not be longer than 4000 words.

Abstracts of 200 words (maximum), along with a 50-word author bio, are to be emailed to Guest Editors, SARE at with a copy to The Editor, SARE at by 15 November 2022.

All decisions about the selection of contributions will be sent out by 30 November 2022.

The deadline for the submission of full papers (5000-7000 words) and/or creative non-fiction/poetry: is 1 March 2023. Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the “Make a Submission” portal at

Publication date: July 2023

If you have any questions related to the special issue, please direct your inquiries to The Editor, SARE at or

About Guest Editors

Dr. Nukhbah Taj Langah, Ph.D. (English) obtained her PhD from University of Leeds, UK in 2008. She started teaching at Forman Christian College University, Lahore (Pakistan) in 2009 while also fulfilling key administrative roles within the domain of Humanities. Her doctoral research is published as a monograph entitled, Poetry as Resistance: Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan (Routledge, 2011).  She did her post-doc from Center of South Asia Studies (Le Centre d'Études de l'Inde et de l'Asie du Sud), Paris in 2016-17. As Charles Wallace Fellow (2018) at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, she conducted a project focused on Siraiki Language speakers in Britain : An Ethnographic Study.  Her first edited volume focused on Literary and non-Literary Responses towards 9/11 (Routledge, 2019); she also two co-edited two  volumes entitled, Film, Media, and Representation in Postcolonial South Asia (Routledge 2021) and Narratives of Loss and Longing: Literary developments in Post-colonial South Asia with Dr. Roshni Sengupta (School of Modern Media UPES, Dehradun, India). She has co-translated acknowledged Urdu poet, Noshi Gillani’s poems in collaboration with British poet, Lavinia Greenlaw (Poems: Noshi Gillani Enitharmon, 2008) and contemporary Siraiki poetry by  into English for the Poetry Translation Center (London).  She is currently coediting a book focused on marginality and identity in Pakistan with Dr. Goutam Karmakar. She is a freelance translator, a political activist and pursues interdisciplinary approaches in postcolonial studies through her teaching and research. She will be joining the department of English, University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur) in 2023.


Goutam Karmakar, Ph.D. (English), is an Assistant Professor of English at Barabazar Bikram Tudu Memorial College, Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, Purulia, West Bengal, India. At present, he is working as an NRF Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. His forthcoming and recently published edited books are Nation and Narration: Hindi Cinema and the Making and Remaking of National Consciousness (Routledge, forthcoming), The Poetry of Jibanananda Das: Aesthetics, Poetics, and Narratives (Routledge, forthcoming), Narratives of Trauma in South Asian Literature (Routledge), The City Speaks: Urban Spaces in Indian Literature (Routledge, 2022), and Religion in South Asian Anglophone Literature: Traversing Resistance, Margins and Extremism (Routledge, 2021). He has been published in journals, including Visual Anthropology, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Intersections, SARE, IUP Journal of English Studies, MELUS, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Comparative Literature: East & West, Journal of International Women’s Studies, South Asia Research, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, South Asian Review, Journal of Gender Studies, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, National Identities, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, and Asiatic among others.

SPECIAL ISSUE: Vol. 59, No. 2, December 2022



“Food: Culture, Consumption, and Representation”  

Guest Editor: Dr Anitha Devi Pillai


What we eat and won’t eat, food we crave, desire, or abhor, where we will eat or won’t eat, and in fact how much we eat when we eat are all deeply reflective of our heritage, our background, our exposure, and our connection to food, and to the memories that these food items bring to us. Food choices establish and perpetuate boundaries and borders. Food is closely tied to our identity. It has history and it has a story. How we experience food is personal on one level and relatable on many levels to those with whom we share geographical, cultural, and emotional ties.

SARE’s Special Issue on “Food: Culture, Consumption, and Representation” seeks to examine representations of food in literature, film, podcasts, short videos, menus, cartoons, comic strips, exhibits, and any other cultural productions of and from Asia, including its diasporas, that articulate ideas or stories about food. What can Asian-centred narratives and texts tell us about the relationship between language and food? How can Asia as a site of study contribute to discussions in or around food scholarship? In what ways can analyses of food writing and other textual matter from Asia engage debates on postcolonial, gender, and critical race studies? We are seeking insightful and thought-provoking pieces that are methodologically interesting and pay careful attention to the texts under examination.

The following list of topics is meant to be generative of ideas and is neither authoritative nor exhaustive:

  • Food and Fantasy
  • Food and Power
  • Food and Identity
  • Food and Desire
  • Food and Heritage
  • Food and Consumption and Eating Practice
  • Food and Addiction
  • Food and Rituals
  • Food and Travel Writing
  • Food and Deviance
  • Food and Power
  • Food and Religion
  • Food and Taboo
  • Food and Language
  • Multimodal representations of food and storytelling
  • Positive and negative connotations of food in literature

Articles & Book Reviews

This SARE thematic call for participation invites scholarly articles, of between 5000 and 7000 words, and book reviews of food fiction novels or anthologies, of between 1000 and 1300 words, that address, but need not be limited to, the above topics.

Abstracts of 200 words (maximum), along with a 50-word author bio, are to be emailed to The Guest Editor, SARE at with a copy to The Editor, SARE at by 30 April 2022.

Decisions will be sent out by 15 May 2022.

The deadline for the submission of full papers is 31 August 2022.  Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the “Make a Submission” portal at

Fiction, Creative-Non-Fiction & Poetry

You are invited to send in food fiction and poetry that address, but need not be limited to, the above topics. Fiction and Creative non-fiction should not be longer than 5000 words.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2022.  Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the “Make a Submission” portal at


Further submission guidelines can be found on our website.

Publication date: December 2022

If you have any questions related to the special issue, please direct your inquiries to The Editor, SARE at or


About our Guest Editor

Anitha Devi Pillai (Ph.D, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) is Senior Lecturer at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, where she teaches and researches on multi-disciplinary areas related to English language pedagogy (writing component), community literacy studies, academic writing, and creative writing. Dr Pillai is the recipient of three Teaching Awards: Excellence in Teaching Commendation 2018 from NIE and Teaching Merit Awards from the Singapore University of Social Sciences in 2013 and 2014.

Dr Pillai’s research on the Singapore Malayalee community was supported by a National Heritage Board (Singapore) grant and resulted in the publication of From Kerala to Singapore: Voices from the Singapore Malayalee Community (2017). She was awarded the Pravasi Express Research Excellence Award in 2017 for this study.

Dr Pillai has also authored and edited creative and non-creative fiction books. She has also translated a historical fiction novel, Sembawang: A Novel (2020), from Tamil into English. The novel was shortlisted for the Singapore History Prize by the National University of Singapore and as Best Literary Work by the Singapore Book Publishers Association. Her poems have made their way into classrooms in Singapore, India, Australia, and the Philippines. Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies including The Best Asian Short Stories 2019Letter to My Son (2020) and Food Republic: A Singapore Literary Banquet (2020). Much of her work explores themes of identity, heritage, and culture. She also serves as Co-Director of the 16th International Conference on the Short Story in English and Editor for the prose (fiction) section of the new literary journal, Practice, Research and Tangential Activities (PR&TA). She is currently working on a collection of short stories focusing on food and love.




"EcoGothic Asia: Nature, Asia, and the Gothic Imagination"

Guest Editor: Associate Professor Li-hsin Hsu

Since the emergence of modernity, the perceived eastern emphasis on the harmony between humanity and nature has been profoundly challenged and reshaped by the process of industrialization. Asia as a geo-poetic imaginary and a geo-political locus of both utopic imagination and dystopic anxiety in literature – both non-Asian and Asian – magnifies, problematizes, or sometimes accelerates such a disquieting and polarized projection. The “EcoGothic”, as an interdisciplinary approach that investigates the intersection between the ecological and the Gothic imagination, provides a useful epistemological and methodological tool to rethink how aesthetics, philosophical thoughts and social-cultural or environmental discourses in (or about) the Asian / Pacific region complicate our understanding of human-nonhuman interactions.

We invite submissions for a special issue of SARE to explore the enmeshed human-nonhuman relationship by examining the interconnectedness between the natural, the supernatural or the unnatural, the diseased,  (dis)possessed and contagious bodies - human or nonhuman – the haunted as well as haunting landscapes, and the terrifying or monstrous flora and fauna in literature in or about Asia. We ask how the EcoGothic imagination in (or about) Asia conceptualizes or addresses the notion of human-nature co-existence or the precarious state of human-nonhuman (dis)harmony. How does reading literatures of ecological crises, disasters, or extinctions help us reimagine Asia as a heterogeneous geography, both symbolically and in reality? In an age of the Anthropocene, how are our perceptions of human-nonhuman interactions redefined by the COVID-19 pandemic or other environmental/ecological crises? How does local knowledge address global issues in the environmental humanities from or about this region?

Submissions might consider how recent theories of ecologies, technologies, philosophies or sociologies might renew our ways of reading literature about human-nonhuman interactions in our time. Papers might also consider how the notion of Asia is represented or reconfigured in relation to contemporary events or interdisciplinary approaches and narratives, or how reading environmental works, both Asian and non-Asian, might assist our understanding of the EcoGothic as a multifaceted concept in refreshing directions.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

Asia and the (un)natural / supernatural

Transcultural / Transpacific Gothic

The Gothic and Orientalism

Gothic gardens and tropical wildlife

Volcanic islands and vengeful oceans

Aliens, monsters, or ghosts / spirits in an Asian context    

The inhuman, transhuman, anti-human, more-than-human / posthuman

Apocalyptic / dystopic imagination and the (non)Asian other

Deserted rural areas and haunted urban landscapes

Indigeneity and environmental injustice

Invasive species and regional Gothic

Disorder / excess / transgression in nature

Diseases and extinction

Bodily contagion and dis / trans-figuration

Migration, displacement and (im)mobility

Fear of the nonhuman world and / or the wilderness

Ecological crises and race / gender / class (in)equality

Strange natures and queer ecologies

This SARE special issue invites papers, of between 5000 and 7000 words, that address, but need not be limited to, the above questions.

Abstracts of 200 words (maximum), along with a 50-word author bio, are to be emailed to The Editor, SARE at, with a copy to the Guest Editor at by 15 November 2021.

Decisions will be sent out by 30 November 2021.

The deadline for the submission of full papers is 1 March 2022.  Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the “Make a Submission” portal at

Further submission guidelines can be found on our website.

Publication date: July 2022

If you have any questions related to the special issue, please direct your inquiries to The Editor, SARE at


About our Guest Editor:

Li-hsin Hsu (Ph. D in English Literature, University of Edinburgh) is Associate Professor of English at National Chengchi University, Taiwan. Her research interests include Emily Dickinson studies, Romanticism, Transatlantic studies, Transpacific studies, Orientalism, and Ecocriticism. She has published in a number of international journals, such as the Emily Dickinson Journal, Symbiosis, Cowrie and Romanticism. She is the recipient of the Academia Sinica Research Award for Junior Research Investigators in Taiwan (2019) and was a Top University Strategic Alliance Scholar at UC Berkeley (2018–2019). She has served the Emily Dickinson International Society board and the Los Angeles Review of Books Lit-World Senior Editorial team since 2018. From 2017 to August 2021, she was editor-in-chief of The Wenshan Review, an international academic journal devoted to the promotion of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to literary and cultural studies. She has guest-edited journal issues on transculture-related topics, including a special issue on “Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations: 1776 to the Present” for The Wenshan Review (June 2018), and a special issue on “International Dickinson: Scholarship in English Translation” for The Emily Dickinson Journal (Fall 2020). She has also contributed to a number of edited volumes, such as Ephemeral Spectacles, Exhibition Spaces and Museums: 1750-1918 (Amsterdam University Press, 2021) and Romantic Environmental Sensibility: Nature, Class, Empire (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming), on topics related to space and race.





"Transpacific American Literature: Empire, Space, and Representation"

Guest Editor: Associate Professor Yuan Shu

If the Atlantic has historically and culturally been represented as "the Atlantic World" in spatial terms, then the Pacific has always been constructed temporally as "the Pacific Era", "America's Pacific Century", or "the Asia Pacific Century". Indeed, since Admiral Alfred Mahan articulated the concept of sea power and projected the future of the United States into the Asia-Pacific in the late nineteenth century, the Pacific has served as an extended conquest of the Americas in the Western history of consciousness as argued by historian Arif Dirlik. Such an imperial vision and imagination have contradicted the material reality of the Pacific, which involves movements of populations, flows of commodities, and exchange of ideas within the region.

Why transpacific American literature? This special issue seeks to examine the specific ways in which the United States has emerged as a global superpower in the Pacific and how its economic and military expansions have been resisted, negotiated, and appropriated by people in the region. First, what has been the Anglo-American legacy in exploring the Pacific "scientifically", militarily, and economically? Second, how have Asian, Oceanic, and Asian Pacific American authors challenged Anglo-American narratives from manifest destiny to market democracy by approaching US history and culture from "the wrong way",  entailing movements from the Asia Pacific and Oceania to North America? Third, how have the indigenous people of the South Pacific complicated and triangulated the relationship between North America and the Asia Pacific by reimagining "our sea of islands" from the global south?  What has been the meaning and significance of the Black Pacific for North America and the Asia Pacific? And finally, why do the vision and spirit of the 1955 Bandung Conference still matter today?

The special issue ultimately raises questions on the geopolitics of the transpacific:

How do contemporary Asian, Oceanic, and American literary and other cultural texts represent what critics call the post-American world in terms of the rise of the Rest vis-à-vis the West?

How does the US remapping of the Asia Pacific as the Indo-Pacific impact power dynamics in the region?

Why would the US promotion of democracy and human rights matter to the region's stability and prosperity?

How do we understand China's Belt and Road Initiative in the context of the US-centered global order?

What role should ASEAN play in Cold War 2.0 between the United States and China?     


This SARE special issue invites papers, of between 5000 and 7000 words, that address, but need not be limited to, the above questions.

Abstracts of 200 words (maximum), along with a 50-word author bio, are to be emailed to The Editor, SARE at by 30 April 2021.

Decisions will be sent out by 15 May 2021.

The deadline for the submission of full papers is 31 August 2021.  Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the "Make a Submission" portal at

Further submission guidelines can be found on our website.

Publication date: December 2021

If you have any questions related to the special issue, please direct your inquiries to The Editor, SARE at or


About our Guest Editor:

Yuan Shu (Combined Ph. D in English and American Studies, Indiana University at Bloomington) is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Asian Studies Program at Texas Tech University, USA. His research interests encompass transpacific American studies and globalization theory, technology and discourse, as well as critical and comparative race studies. He has published essays in journals varying from Cultural Critique to MELUS, from College Literature to The Journal of Popular Film and Television. He has co-edited two volumes, American Studies as Transnational Practice (Dartmouth College Press, 2015) and Oceanic Archives, Indigenous Epistemologies, and Transpacific American Studies (Hong Kong University Press, 2019). His monograph, Empire and Cosmo-politics: Technology, Race, and Transpacific Chinese American Writing, is under revision at a university press. He has guest-edited a special issue on "World Orders and Geopolitics of the Transpacific" for Verge: Studies in Global Asias, 7.1 (Spring 2021). He served as a US Fulbright scholar teaching and researching at the National University of Singapore in 2017, and received an MLA Humanities Innovation Award in 2019.





As a nascent field of inquiry, subcreation studies is rooted in the creation and exploration of imaginary worlds. Relegated to the background of narrative-driven cultural productions, subcreation studies focuses on the frameworks created by storytellers that allow for imaginary worlds to come to life. Imaginary worlds refer to the fictional worlds in which the stories take place.  It is the creation of an imaginary world, or what Tolkien refers to as a "Secondary World", that compels an audience to fully immerse itself in expansive, multi-volume texts or episodic media franchises.

Subcreation studies is particularly interested in "worldbuilding", or the processes by which creators craft the details and events of an imaginary world that may not necessarily advance the story, but provide what Mark J.P. Wolf describes as "background richness and verisimilitude to the imaginary world" and that usually take place outside the main narrative. These acts of creation, according to psychologists John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, enable the simulation of unusual situations through association, thus allowing for experimentation as well as empathy and the development of important cognitive systems that let us participate in expansive and future-forward endeavours. These skills give us the capacity to imagine, and to even work towards, the kind of world we want to live in, and the kind of systems of living that we want to create in the real world.

However, subcreation studies also allows for a re-examination of how these imaginary worlds are created, presented, consumed, and even subsumed by corporations and institutions. For instance, it is not surprising that many of these popular imaginary worlds are coming out of significantly developed countries that have the resources to create, market, and expand on intellectual property. Given their immense cultural significance -- think of story franchises such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Disney's never-ending parade of sequels/prequels/midquels, the Marvel and DC Multiverses, Star Trek, and Star Wars, among others -- there needs to be an examination and interrogation of how these imaginary worlds present and represent concepts and ideas about the world in which we live. As these worlds are representative rather than mimetic, there are myriad ways to read these imaginary worlds in terms that call to mind the struggles and hopes of our world: the violence and the victories, the despair and hopes of many, the ways in which societies struggle, perform, and aspire to surpass their own tragedies and triumphs.

This Special Issue on worldbuilding focuses on regional texts and creators, and on how Asian imaginary worlds have been conceived, crafted, and released, how they have interpreted or re-interpreted source materials, and how they have been received or engaged with by their audience. As speculative fiction writer Jeff VanderMeer points out,  "The places and spaces in which a story occurs are not inert or merely backdrops to action... worldbuilding is not just about creating colorful stages for your characters worldbuilding can be part of what is taking place." These imaginary worlds may be in any form, medium, or genre from Zen Cho's The Pure Moon Reflected in Water to Ken Liu's The Dandelion Dynasty series; Studio Ghibli's fascinating fantasy worlds, such as in Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro to the bleak horror of Train to Busan; episodic narratives such as the acclaimed historical zombie series Kingdom or the modern fantaserye world of Encantadia.

The focus of this Special Issue is the critical analyses of the production and consumption of imaginary worlds, with other elements such as plot or character being of secondary importance. It is the hope of this Special Issue that by examining the rise and structure of Asian worlds, the practice of world-building, and the audience's reception of imaginary worlds, we can reorient  the world beyond that which we experience today.

The topics that can be explored for this Special Issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Creation and/or destruction of secondary worlds
  • Imagined cultures and societies
  • Creating new races, languages, or creatures
  •  Gender and sexuality
  • Adaptations of myths and legends
  • Textual retellings, revisions, and updates
  • Historical re-imaginings
  • Narratives and narratology
  • Transmediality, transnarrativity, trans-authorial texts
  • Textual productions and reproductions
  • Genre studies
  • Creative writing studies
  • Media studies

Abstracts of 200 words (maximum), along with a 50-word author bio, are to be emailed to The Editor, SARE at, with a copy to the Guest Editor (, by 15 November 2020.

Decisions will be sent out by 30 November 2020.

The deadline for the submission of full papers (6000-7000 words) is 1 March 2021.  Submissions should be in English and uploaded to the SARE website through the "Make a Submission" portal at

Further submission guidelines can be found on our website.

Publication date: July 2021

If you have any questions related to the special issue, please direct your inquiries to The Editor, SARE at or

Some sources that can be referred to in preparation for this special issue include:

  • Boni, Marta, ed. World Building: Transmedia, Fans, Industries. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017.
  • VanderMeer, Jeff. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. New York: Abrams Books, 2013.
  • Wolf, Mark J.P. Building Imaginary Worlds: The History and Theory of Subcreation. New York: Routledge, 2015.
  • The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds. New York: Routledge, 2018.


About our Guest Editor

Gabriela Lee is Assistant Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines Diliman. Her research interests include creative writing studies, children's and young adult fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and Philippine speculative fiction in English. Her fiction has been published in the Philippines and elsewhere, and in journals such as LONTAR: The Southeast Asian Journal of Speculative Fiction (Singapore), Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Canada), Heat: An Anthology of Southeast Asian Urban Writing (Malaysia), Kaleidoscope: Speculative Fiction for Young Adults (Australia), and The Dragon and the Stars (United States). She has also regularly contributed to collections such as the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthologies and the Filipino Fiction for Young Adults series. Instructions on How to Disappear (2016) is her first collection of short fiction. Her second collection, A Playlist for the End of the World, will be published in 2021 by the University of the Philippines Press.

She has contributed scholarly articles to several journals such as Kritika Kultura and The Likhaan Journal, as well as a chapter on young adult speculative fiction in the Philippines in Asian Children's Literature and Film in a Global Age: Local, National, and Transnational Trajectories (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). She is currently working on an academic sourcebook for Philippine speculative fiction, as well as on her own writing. 

Gabriela is the inaugural recipient of the Jose Y. Dalisay Professorial Chair in Creative Writing at UP Diliman (2017-2020), and her research as Professorial Chair focuses on worldbuilding and speculative fiction.