Transnational Studies

What are transnational Studies ?

Adopting a transnational perspective has become essential in understanding the contemporary practices taking place across borders since the early 1990s, especially with respect to migrants and other persons on the move. Most social scientists agree that a transnational perspective brings to light the multiple connections that migrants or persons on the move maintain simultaneously at different places across the globe and which result in transnational social fields and spaces or forms of belonging. This view suggests that to be transnational involves a mode of acting and performing (i.e. building up transnational social relations and practices) as much as it involves a mode of thinking, feeling and belonging.

One strand of work theorizes transnational processes with a focus on established migrants settled in their host countries. Another focuses on various continuous forms of mobility and the subsequent establishment of transnational circuits.

Our Focus: A transnational perspective as a means to investigate social processes of contemporary societies - Linking transnational perspectives with social theories and going beyond the ‘migration container’

We understand ‘transnationalism’ as a research perspective which allows us to tackle particular social processes which go beyond the ‘national container’ (but are influenced by national categories), rather than as a specific theoretical concept. Hence, we do not limit our interest to delivering descriptive research about migrants and their way of being and acting transnationally. Rather, we pioneered a number of new approaches to this work: Firstly, we link the transnational perspective to general social theories. For example, to theories of ethnicity, mobility, social inequality, gender or religion. Secondly, we include not only migrants, but also non-migrants in our empirical work, thus overcoming the common asymmetry present in transnational studies, which tends to primarily focus on migrant populations. Thirdly, we address different forms of mobilities, allowing us to explore differentiated forms of transnational practices and identifications. The following topics are currently under investigation by our researchers:

  • The (re)production of ethnicity and family in transnational space among non-EU-migrants through marriage, in the context of restrictive migration regimes and the ethnicization of migrant-marriages
  • The transnational circulation of early career academics and the effects in terms of gender and career progression
  • Transnational practices and subjectivities of Salsa dancers, focusing on the (re)production of ‘authenticity’, ‘Latin-ness’, and female and male bodies
  • Transnational networks of particular groups in the perspective of ‘locality’ and social inequality
  • Social inequalities in transnational social fields, investigated through the analysis of Somali migrants’ mobility practices
  • The transnational spaces of graffiti writers
  • The fandom of Korean television series, K-Dramas