Revisiting Transnationalism

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Part of a series of seminars delivered by the Global Diversities and Inequalities Research Centre.

Revisiting Transnationalism – since the first introduction of the term in the 1990s (Glick Schiller, Basch & Blanc‐Szanton, 1992), transnationalism has become a key theme in much research on migration, refugees and diaspora. However, there are also concerns that the term is being used too widely and fails to sufficiently differentiate between varied forms of transnational practices (Dahinden, 2005). In this seminar we will bring together our research with varied groups of migration in different global regions to critically reflect upon what is meant by transnationalism.

Dr Antia Mato Bouzas: ‘Transnationalism: some considerations about migrants’ experiences in the Gulf’

This presentation discusses the concept of transnationalism with a focus on South-South experiences. First, it explores understandings of this concept with regard to aspects of citizenship and inclusion, and with a specific reference to the case of migrant communities in the Gulf states. Second, it analyses the political transformative dimension of transnationalism through the study of a transnational network between north-eastern Pakistan and Kuwait. The crossing of state boundaries and being engaged in two or more societies is a key dimension of the transnational experience. This presentation, however, focuses on another equally important aspect, that of being in an ambivalent position in terms of belonging to one’s own state. In highlighting transnational connections between North-eastern Pakistan and Kuwait, I argue that transnationalism is strongly connected to forms of social boundary-making resulting from decolonisation and nation-building processes that situate some actors in more or less advantaged positions in these relatively recently created states.

Prof Louise Ryan ‘Using a social networks lens to analyse dynamic transnational practices through the life course’

Drawing on her research with diverse migrants in London (from the Caribbean and parts of Europe), Louise will present an analysis from her forthcoming book on migrants’ social networks through a life course perspective. Using rich qualitative interviews and social network mapping, Louise will discuss how migrants maintain geographically dispersed relationships and how these evolve over time especially through the ageing process. Louise will pay particular attention to the different resources flowing through these ties (including care) as well as the effort involved in sustaining long-distance connections. Using a networks perspective allows for a more nuanced understanding of these complex and dynamic interpersonal relationships.


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