@article{Kivisto2001, author="Peter Kivisto", title="Theorizing Transnational Immigration: A Critical Review of Current Efforts", year="2001", journal="Ethnic and Racial Studies", volume="24-4", number="July", pages="549-577", annote="

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

Review and critique of the ways the term has come to be employed at the hands of key spokespersons that have articulated the most sustained theoretical rationales to date for transnationalism as a conceptual construct to account for new immigrant identities and communities.

During the past decade the concept of transnationalism has entered the lexicon of migration scholars, embraced by those who are attracted to its attempt to capture the distinctive and characteristic features of the new immigrant communities that have developed in the advanced industrial nations at the core of the capitalist world system.

The term transnationalism has emerged and evolve at a time characterized by high levels of labor migration from economically less developed nations to the most developed and from similarly high levels of political refugees fleeing conflicts and instability in former communist and third world nations.

Steve Vertovec points out several recurring themes that shape the ways the term is employed. He identifies six distinct uses of the term: (1) as a social morphology focused on new border spanning social formation; (2) as diasporic consciousness; (3) as a mode of cultural reproduction variously identified as syncretism, creolization, bricolage, cultural translation, and hybridity; (4) as an avenue of capital for transnational corporations and in smaller but significant way in the form of remittances sent by immigrants to family and friends in their homelands; (5) as a site of political engagement, both in terms of homeland politics and the politics of homeland governments vis-à-vis their émigré communities, and in terms of the expanded role of international non-governmental organizations; and (6) as a reconfiguration of the notion of place from an emphasis on the local and the translocal.

The exigencies of the capitalist market shape the lives of past immigrants similarly, forcing individuals in both waves to live with considerable insecurity. The desire to return to the one’s homeland after obtaining enough capital to make an economically successful return is not new, with the Chinese of passage who ventured the US in the middle of the nineteenth century constituting something of an ideal type.

If the terms transnationalism and transmigrants are the embraced as useful concepts, it would appear that they should not be limited to present immigrants. Portes has suggested that transnational communities are in a sense labor’s analog to the multiregional corporation. Transnational immigrant communities ought to be seen as necessary objects of investigation for those interested in manifestations of transnationalism from below.

Political transnationalism is said to involve ‘the political activities of party officials, governmental functionaries, or community leaders whose main goals are the achievement of political power and influence in the sending or receiving countries’.

Faist defines transnational social spaces as a combination of social and symbolic ties, positions in networks and organizations, and networks of organizations that can be found in at least two geographically and internationally distinct places. Transnational immigrant social spaces require the creation of a new form of ethnic community. Transnational communities characterize situations in which international movers and dense and strong social and symbolic ties connect stayers over time and across space to patterns of networks and circuits in two countries.

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism

Transnationalism, transnational corporations, translocal, transnational communities, transnational immigrant communities, political transnationalism, transnational social spaces and transnational immigrant social spaces.

Conclusions or Final Remarks

Research will determine whether transnationalism, to the extent that actually exists, is only a phenomenon relevant to immigrant generation or whether it will prove to be capable of persisting over time and across generations.

", keyword0="Assimilation", keyword1="Conceptual Issues", keyword2="Ethnicity", keyword3="Immigration", keyword4="Transnational Communities", keyword5="Transnationalism", type="journal" }