A Vedic phrase asks us to “treat the world as a family.” In our age of global crises—pandemics, climate crisis, crippling inequality—this sentiment is more necessary than ever. Solutions to these seemingly insurmountable problems demand new approaches to thinking and acting locally, nationally, and transnationally, sometimes sequentially but often simultaneously. This is the immigrant mentality, the exchange student, the global native, and all who have made a life in a new place by choice or by necessity. However, we suffer from a lack of genuinely capacious thinking that is so urgently needed.
Vishakha N. Desai uses her life experiences to explore the significance of living globally and its urgency for our current moment. She weaves her narrative arc from growing up in a Gandhian household in Ahmedabad to arriving in the United States as a seventeen-year-old exchange student and her subsequent career as a dancer, curator, institutional leader, and teacher against the broad sweep of political and social changes in the two countries she calls home. Through her personal story, Desai reframes the idea of what it means to be global, considering how to lead a life of multiple belongings without losing local and national affinities. Vividly conjuring the complexities and exhilaration of a life rooted in many places, World as Family is an essential book for everyone who aspires to connect across borders—real and perceived—and bring to fruition the ideal of a global family.
Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President, Chair of the Committee on Global Thought, and Senior Research Scholar for International and Public Affairs School at Columbia University. She also serves as Senior Advisor for Global Programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Vishakha is the past President and CEO of the Asia Society. She is a noted scholar of Asian art and a frequent commentator on the intersection of arts and contemporary issues.
Irina Bokova served as the Director-General of UNESCO for two terms. She is the first woman to lead the organization and was actively engaged in the UN’s efforts to adopt Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Irina has served as Ambassador of Bulgaria to France and Monaco and as the Personal Representative to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Currently, she is a member of the Board of the Ban Ki-Moon Center for Global Citizens, an international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among numerous others.
Safwan M. Masriis Professor and Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University and Senior Research Scholar at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is also the author of Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly (Columbia University Press, 2017) and served as Vice Dean of Columbia Business School from 1993 to 2006. He is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association.