In this personal essay, Jasanoff explores the family history that preceded her academic interest in figures who crossed geographical and cultural borders. Jasanoff's grandparents traversed borders as travellers and immigrants. So did her parents - one Jewish, the other Bengali - who further crossed cultural lines by marrying each other. This ethnically-mixed heritage has had consequences for Jasanoff's scholarly outlook. While recent historiography of empire has tended to stress the hostility and oppression of imperial encounters, Jasanoff's research has explored incidents of cross-cultural collaboration and migration. Her reluctance to characterize imperial exchange in binary terms may stem, she suggests, from her personal background as the blended product of two distinct traditions.