This article highlights the overall aims of the special issue, which reconceptualizes island worlds as situated historical places, that is, islands and their networks as spaces that come to life through the multiple and contested meanings constantly attached to them, formed in the milieu of overlapping and competing European, US, and Southeast Asian empires and diasporas. By investigating the forms and politics of storytelling in the island South and Southeast Asia, along with parallel and intersecting formations in the Caribbean and diasporic Asian America, this article underlines the two scholarly interventions of the special issue in the study of world making: (1) it refashions the notion of comparison to move away from the project of “knowing”—habitually constituted through a top-down gaze aimed at assessment and measuring, which consequently leads to the formation of hierarchies, categories of containment, and reductionism—and to unearth forms of comparison emerging from local environments and local knowledge; and (2) in thinking of storytelling events or inscriptions as situated testimonies (i.e., identifying the politics of location of a telling), it centers affect and emotion as the means for unraveling and connecting different, contesting registers of experience.

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