Transnational Spaces

Transnational Spaces

Transnational Spaces

Transnational Spaces


Drawing on examples from around the world and from a range of disciplinary perspectives, this book seeks to expand our understanding of transnationalism by exerting our collective geographical imagination.


The spaces of transnationality

Peter Jackson, Philip Crang and Claire Dwyer

This book aims to provide a new perspective on the study of transnationality. In this Introduction and in related work (Crang et al. 2003), we argue that most current work in this rapidly expanding field has underestimated the significance of space in the constitution of various forms of transnationality. Previous studies have emphasized the importance of transnational corporations and business networks (Dicken 1986; Yeung 1998; Beaverstock and Boardwell 2000). They have examined the scope of transnational urban politics and social movements (Smith and Guarnizo 1998; Smith 2001) and explored the significance of newly emerging transnational cultural forms (Appadurai 1986, 1996; Hannerz 1996). But, in our collective view, such studies of the economic, political and cultural dimensions of transnationalism have characteristically under-played the transformation of space that is involved in the evolution of transnational social forms. Rather than taking space as a passive backdrop to transnational social relations, we argue that space is constitutive of transnationality in all its different forms.

The case can be made in a number of ways. First, within academia itself, different models of transnationality have been developed in different geographical spaces. So, for example, the kinds of arguments made about transnational migration in the context of the US-Mexican border are very different from those made in the context of the Asia-Pacific rim. In the former, transnational migrants are seen as a threat to national (US) stability, while relatively impoverished immigrants provide an economically valuable source of cheap labour but one that is subject to constant surveillance, regulation and control. In the latter case, transnational migration is often promoted by both sending and receiving countries, as an active strategy for nation-building and/or as a source of capital investment and skilled labour (see Chapters 1 and 7 of this volume). Other contexts have also produced their own transnational geographies, so that, for example, European transnationalities might be distinguished from those of the Americas (as Alisdair Rogers argues in Chapter 8 of this volume). So, transnationality varies over time and space.

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