Migration and the Limits of Transnationalism

Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:30 PM
Marriott Ballroom, Salon 3 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Nancy L. Green, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
In 1992, transnationalism was “discovered” by immigration anthropologists, and the field of migration studies embraced it warmly, albeit with migration historians arguing that transnationalism is not that new; it has been intrinsic to the experiences of many migrants in the past. If the phenomenon is not new, the present historiographic emphasis is. Indeed, by looking anew at our sources, we have been able to stress the transnational connections of migrants past. However, the shift to an emphasis on mobility (“migrants” as opposed to “immigrants”) and on agency and in-between-ness has perhaps led to an overly optimistic view of the fluidity of past movement. I would argue that individuals have at times gotten lost not just in translation but in transnationalism. We need to look at the difficulties, the legal limits, and the frustrations of transnational activities in order to incorporate them into our analyses of mobility past and present.
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