Rethinking Transnationalism

  • Waldinger R
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Focusing on the interaction between migrants and stay-at homes, this paper shows how the host country experience at once facilitates and structures immigrants’ involvements with the countries from which they come. The vehicle is a study of a migration universal: the associations that bring together migrants displaced from a common hometown. These associations provide a strategic research site, allowing us to take apart the two very different aspects – namely, state and nation – that the transnational concept conflates. In coming together with their fellow hometowners, the immigrants show their attachment to a social collectivity defined in terms of common origin in some other place. However, the upsurge of contemporary hometown oriented activity also involves cross-state spillovers, in which resources generated “here” are used for ends “there”. As this paper shows the potential for home country involvement at once derives from and is shaped by the bounded, receiving society resources that give the migrants new leverage not found before. Rather than linking immigrants and stay-at-homes in a single transnational community or social field, the cross-state activities undertaken by hometown associations yield not so much cross-state community, as cross-state conflict, reproducing inequalities between migrants and the stay-at-homes in ways that reflect the inequalities between receiving and sending places.




Waldinger, R. (2010). Rethinking Transnationalism. Empiria. Revista de Metodología de Ciencias Sociales, 0(19), 21.

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