Week 14: Transnationalism, Internationalism, Borders, and Movement

by jessicavooris

1. I am thinking words and language, and ask a similar first question to Jessica’s first query.  It feels like a very basic, but also relevant: what is the difference between international and transnational and global?

(Part of this is personal reflection–growing up I always considered myself part of an international family, not a transnational one.  I have dual-citizenship and have moved between countries, as have many members of my family.  But I wonder, does transnational fit my experience better? How does the terminology of transnational change conceptions of identity around migration/movement? How do we value/conceptualize these terms differently?)

2.  Both of these readings bring to the fore the idea of movement and mobility within concepts of space, home, belonging, migration.  Is the transnational always about movement, border crossings and migration? How can we conceive of the transnational from a local, situated/stable perspective/location? Or are we always implicated within transnational networks by virtue of our digital connectivity and involvement with capital flows and global economies?


Space and mobility are linked.  “Space is a product of interrelations and of’interactions, from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny,’Massey (2005, p. 9) argues, emphasizing the coexisting heterogeneity and multiplicity in the possibilities and trajectories within space.” (Georgiou 209). Space has multiple meanings for multiple identities.


by jessicawalker

What’s a nation state and how is it different from nation?

Both works emphasize how transnational subject must negotiate between a territoriality that locates national belonging within a nations’ borders and the flow of ideas, capital, and identity beyond those borders. Although I understand that everything can be located in a global system I am still unsure about people how construct identities divorced from these overt expressions of transnationalism. I am really asking a methodological question in terms of my own research: How do you deploy or integrate a transnational analytical framework within communities that don’t conceptualize their material existence within those frameworks?

Basch notes the focus of work on transmigrants is how they identify and are indentified “in terms of race, ethnicity, and nation.” This is not a critique of absence but what would gender as a added category look like in this analysis? Or a consideration of sex and sexuality as a tool for nation building, gendered divisions of certain labor that are masculinized. We often imagined it to be male laborers migrating when in fact although the labor is masculinzed it is mostly labored performed by women.

Basch, Glick Schiller, and Szanton Blanc note that certain transnational subjects have the ability to “live transnationally as a way to accommodate the controlling forcers of capitalism and “their place within the global racial order.” What do those without this “ability” do to accommodate these forces. I am confused by this ability.. is it an ability of financial means where I can afford to move back and forth between two physical places or is it an ability of virtuality and imagination? To imagine a homeland one has never physically visited, engage civilly in the political climate in this virtual place as well as contribute to local activities that promote your national loyalty and cultural belonging. Although I understand its precisely the complexity of the lived experiences and conceptions of nation that the transnational subject must negotiate it also seems as if there is a distinction, differentiation, and perhaps inequality with the abilities to accommodate coercive global forces.

Space: A infinite processes whereby interconnecting systems of global, social, cultural and embodied knowledges inform the value of place. Space is a right.

Place: Fixed in the material and moving freely. Facilitated by place marking objects like maps.

Identity: The processes of having the ability to sense your presence in space—to know you are alive. How you make sense of places’ relationships to the idea of individualism.

transnational migration

by justinsprague

1) Basch mentions transmigrants becoming “deterritorialized” as nation-state boundaries are not fixed anymore (8). There is an increasing push to maintain forms of cultural citizenship for transmigrants in both origin and target countries, which clearly constructs itself in various ways, like transnational political participation in Basch’s example of the Haitian nationalists, or national identity through soft power, like music, movies, tv shows, etc. My question, though, is how is this reshaping citizenship for those still living in the physical national boundaries? If transnational interaction is increasingly more commonplace, can we reimagine citizenship and nationalism in the same way for both local and transmigrant bodies since digital networks are evidently lessening the geographical divide?

2) The notion of the city is troubling on the basis that not all diasporic bodies end up in cities. Bailey mentions this but does not develop the idea. When I worked with Refugee and Immigration services in Hampton Va, the families were placed in suburban or satellite areas to any big cities, and it wasn’t always possible to place people from the exact same region in close proximity (we had refugees from a range of Bhutan, India, and Sudan). If the city, or cosmopolitan space, is available for these subjects to be able to reimagine issues of home and cultural identity, then what does it mean for bodies with possibly no connections to others from their regions, or in the cases of many refugees I worked with, no means to connect with other digitally or to exercise their ‘discursive power’?

3) With the rise in various websites and digital spaces available for different diasporic groups to engage in informal citizenship and cultural participation, I wonder what this will look like for the progeny? For instance, my Koreanness is tied to my mother, grandmother, and emo’s (aunties). Now, with these digital spaces to engage in various cultural territories/nationalisms, children have a much greater range of cultural interaction outside of their immediate family/community, to even include streaming live television and news from source countries. Even further, the method that these sites (Indian-American Web and AfricanOz.com.au) have in attracting these communities differs, like creating a cultural ‘identity’ compared to attempts at fostering glocal nationalism. What are the effects?


Space: an abstract area that is imagined to be filled, bordered, territorialized, and exclusive. Permeable yet seemingly fixed, and takes many forms

Identity: formed from a series of networks, communications, and culture that establishes ones place within a network, nation, or community

Transnationalism and Diaspora

by cassygriff

1. How do transnationalism and diaspora trouble last week’s conversation about borders? We discussed borders as interstitial spaces in which violences, nation-building, and identity-formation occur and are consistently reified, but the analytic of border tended to gesture toward unidirectional movement as well as a phenomenon of “standing still” in the sense of once y0u get there, you’re there. This is not a particularly new question or idea, but I would like to think about how the constant movement implied by transnationalism can be applied to digital spaces and even the rhetorical strategies we use to talk about technology and the digital.

2. This question gets back to my general focus on the ways in which people “do,” perform, or are implicated in processes of the virtual. Are transnational subjects also virtual subjects? Rereading Nations Unbound, I found myself wondering if immigrants specifically have been constructed as virtual subjects in the sense that they are always understood as becoming. Processes of assimilation in the form of name changes, language acquisition, etc. are all focused on making the immigrant into a particular type of citizen-subject. The immigrant is therefore configured as a potential citizen who must jump through all of the hoops of becoming. However, even the presumably final step of naturalization does not fully render the immigrant as an actual citizen due to racialized processes of nation-building. So, is the immigrant always virtual?

3. Finally (and this is just a follow-up to question 2), how does transnationalism shift our narrative of the immigrant subject? While I stated above that there is a certain narrative of potentiality and becoming, does a transnational immigrant subject (considered differently than an immigrant subject) also participate in this process of becoming one thing rather than another or does the movement of affect, labor, money, and identification allow for an actualization that does not rely on the nation-state?

Race After the Internet

by jessicavooris

Race After The Internet is a collection of essays that examines our conceptualizations of race and racial identities in an era of increasing digital media use.  It has been almost 20 years since the iconic New York Times cartoon “No-one Knows you are a dog on the internet” came out, and much scholarly work on the digital and race has critiqued this idea of internet anonymity as a utopian ideal that does not reflect the reality of racial representation and access online.  Referencing these early concepts of the internet, as well as the subsequent critiques, Race After The Internet pushes the conversation beyond questions of racial representations and access, to provide a more nuanced understanding of what counts as the digital, what we mean by the digital divide, and what we can learn about racial constructions through examining digital media and technology.  Situating itself in the current moment when the first generation of ‘digital natives’ is coming of age, when we have elected our first “digital” and first African-American president, within an era which has been called post-racial and post-feminist, this book makes critical arguments about the continuing importance of examining both race and the digital together.

The first part of the book “The History of Race and Information: Code, Policies and Identities” addresses the ways in which racial constructions are linked to the very codes within the technology that we use.  The essays here examine the development of particular programming alongside concepts of racial formation; race and racial segregation as technology; the links between narratives around black inventors and the OLPC program; and the raced and classed labor within narratives around Star Wars and the Silicone Valley.  The second and third parts of the book, “Race, Identity, and Digital Sorting” and “Digital Segregations” question the rhetoric of “the digital divide,” critiquing the idea of access as always privilege/good, and arguing for more nuanced examinations of internet use. These essays address racial coding online and off-line, the ways in which computers “enable new forms of social sorting” (11), the role of race and the digital around Obama’s election, and connectivity on indigenous lands.  Furthermore, essays in part three, provide information about how internet users sort themselves into particular platforms and sites, showing the importance of not only questioning who is online, but where they are spending time and what they are doing there.  The final section of the book addresses the increased biotechnical constructions of racial identity, looking at racial formations within online games, as well as constructions of race in various media contexts around the use of new DNA technologies.

While broad in its scope and conceptualization of race beyond the black-white binary, as various essays address Asian-American, Latino, and indigenous identities, few of the texts address the intersectional dynamics of gender, class, sexuality and other aspects of identity and I would have liked to have seen more layered analysis about these different identity formations as linked to race.   The links to transnational concepts of race and labor are a bit clearer, and essays address the concept of the Chinese gold farmer, the ways in which globalization and imperialism influenced the OLPC, and the transnational connections people make while learning of their genetic heritage.  While this book does not make claims to a transnational analysis, and is for the most part US-centered, I found these moments of global connection to be some of the most interesting.

Overall the book provides a comprehensive and diverse selection of texts addressing different aspects of the digital: programming and coding, matrices, gaming, internet connectivity, DNA technologies, social media sites, news platforms, and technological labor.  It is useful as a text which examines contemporary social media sites and is particularly relevant to the contemporary context but the broader arguments here around technology/the digital, and racial formations will remain relevant even after the particulars of Facebook, Myspace, and other social networking sites and online spaces change.  Furthermore, as it is an interdisciplinary collection, it provides multiple sites from which to approach these questions, making it a text that will be particularly useful to a variety of scholars.

W14: Transnational Communication

by averydame
  1. Georgiou argues that “diasporic continuity is as much about the imagining of a common origin and a common fate as it is about the transnationalization of possible common imaginings, which are particular and specific to a group but also global in their relevance” (216). I wonder what would lead to discontinuity, beyond issues related to national citizenship?
  2. Georgiou briefly discusses the Al Jazeera effect, wherein “Western states suddenly noticed a player in transnational communication which could not be controlled by the established policy and corporate players dominating the (inter-)national systems of politics and communication” (217). I wonder who the opening of “crossover” versions, in this case Al Jazeera English, changes the dynamics of media consumption.
  3. Bailey suggests in their piece that diasporic media online primarily exist to reinforce existing dominant narratives and conservative political interests (i.e. achieving middle class success). These interests often align, furthermore, with the goals of the larger nation-state. However, I wonder how a diasporic space would be understood if it were more politically radical than the national culture that surrounds it?

Cosmopolitanism and Transnational Spatial Practices

by melissarogers

Space: the final frontier. (I’ve been waiting to make this joke all semester.)


  1. I’m wondering about the language of cosmopolitanism. According to Georgiou, the term is supposed to draw our attention to “the complexities of multiple forms of belonging and of heterogeneous and fragmented publics” (210). In this formulation the transformation of cities into cosmopolitan spaces is apparently a good thing, but I do not see how the language of cosmopolitanism tells us who is “‘in charge’ of time and space compression” and when they “lose control” (210). This seems like an oversimplification of power to me. Are we celebrating cosmopolitanism for making more visible the stratification of power in global cities or should we be critiquing it for the same reasons?
  2. I also felt that Georgiou relied on a conceptualization of home that valorized privacy, security, intimacy, and containment, aspects of home that are not universal and that need to be historicized. Drawing on Massey, she attempts to complicate home by suggesting that we understand home’s place in a network of relationships, and argues that mediated communication across and within transnational communities unsettles our understanding of the bounded nature of home. This may be a small point but I’m just wondering about other ways of understanding home in a transnational context. Home may have always already been transnational.
  3. Similarly, I worried that Georgiou put too much emphasis on the city at the expense of the rural or say, the suburban. The city always seems figured as a space of potential, even in spite of Sassen’s explorations of the distribution of power and infrastructure in global cities. What kinds of spatial practices do we overlook when we focus on the city? What might surprise us about rural and suburban uses of mediated communications?

Transational space

by felixburgos

1. It is really interesting the conceptualization of transnationalism as proposed by Bash et al. However, there is something that is still not clear to me. It seems that the authors think about migrants who have the “possibility” of participating in nation-building processes of the (countries, nations, places, spaces?) they formerly and currently inhabit. But what about those who are denied such participation in the “host” country? Here I am referring to undocumented immigrants. If I’m getting the correct idea, the situation of undocumented immigrants must be considered part of the hegemonic constructions in the society. However, could we possible think that the ways in which transnational actions develop could be highly dependent on the legal status of the immigrant?

2. A personal story: This is my fifth year in the US. Perhaps, I’ll stay for some more years in this country (depending mainly on how fast I finish my PhD studies). I do not really think that I will be living in the country once this academic process is over (but I cannot really promise anything). Anyways, that’s not the point. My point is that it could be possible that there are different ways in which diaspora is experienced. It is possible that temporary students (like myself) look for spaces (in the community, in the internet) to “foster (our) sense of belonging” (p. 259); but those spaces might be different from migrants who have already settled in the “host” country. The interesting thing about all this situation is that in hegemonic processes there is no distinction between being a transmigrant PhD student or a transmigrant individual who does landscaping; but I think that not all diasporas try to get together to find common bonds, solidarity or support.

The Transnational Space: According to Basch et al., this term refers to the social location where migrants develop a multiplicity of involvements (social, economical, cultural, and political) in both home and host societies (p. 7). Therefore, we could consider that in such “social location” or “space” different processes of identity construction take place.

Weekly Post 14

by alexcarson

1: Based on the definition put forth by the Georgiu reading, diaspora is a very broad term. While it’s generally associated with disasters, could this definition of diaspora apply to even individual movement for economic purposes? That may already be the case (I’m not versed in diasporic studies), but the concept of smaller diasporas of groups and individuals could be worth studying.

2: The Basch reading actually seems to get in to my first question a bit more, but it raises a question for me. Remittances from people working abroad and other economic and political ties have always been the case for expatriates. Has digital communication really changed that, or simply intensified it? I ask the same question a lot, but I do question how much digital communication has changed things rather than just augmenting them.

3: The distinction between “immigrant” and “migrant” is an interesting topic, because I’ve seen both utilized in different ways. What I wonder, though, is if either term is sufficient for the modern “migrant”. Is someone who moves to another place permanently but maintains ties home still an immigrant? That’s just one of many questions involved in defining these terms.


Diaspora: A movement of people or a person away from a “home” to another place for economic, political, or social reasons predominantly.

Migrant: An individual who leaves a “home”, with the intention of either remaining mobile or returning to that home.

Empire and Nation

by jessicawalker

Anderson notes how Kaiser Wilhelm articulates his national identity by stating that he “was one among many of the same kind as himself” and that when one serves a representative function they are also stating their allegiances against another group. This new universal imperialism that beat out dynasties notions of allegiance means that there has to be something defined against a nation. Must this also be so?

Is accounting for the development of official nationalism Anderson talks about the how empire gets made simultaneously with Nation. Basically, certain political powers were articulating a Nation while developing the idea of one which was the case with English nationalism. This was often predicated on the control of bodies across borders. Some bodies are not allowed or don’t have access to the metropole yet are connected to it by policies of naturalization. I’m wondering how Mezzadra

and Neilson would further complicate Andersons conception of nation via theorizing through borders. Although Anderson does account for labor power, especially in how he talks about southeastern Chinese labor forces in Japan I wonder if his pre-capitalism understand of how bodies move through the borders of nations echoes what Mezzadra and Neilson are suggesting in the age of global capitalism. These are obviously not the same context but the same carving, establishing, and re establishing, of imagined, physical, and temporal borders still seem to resonate between the readings.

In what ways can we say Empire is a simulacra of group or nation. Hardt and Negri write the Empire “envelops the entire space of what is considers civilization a boundless, universal space; and second, a notion of right that encompasses all time within its ethical foundation. Empire exhausts historical time, suspends history, and summons the past and future within its won ethical order. IN other words, Empire presents its order as permanent, eternal, and necessary.”

Space: A infinite processes whereby interconnecting systems of global, social, cultural and embodied knowledges inform the value of place. Space is a right.

Place: Fixed in the material and moving freely. Facilitated by place marking objects like maps.

Identity: The processes of having the ability to sense your presence in space—to know you are alive. How you make sense of places’ relationships to the idea of individualism.

by melissarogers


Space: that which we create in and around us by virtue of our embodied social practices or relationships with other bodies (including objects).

Place: those specific spaces or locations to which we are affectively attached, bound, or oriented by virtue of meaningful relationships with other bodies (including objects), through embodied practices of power (biopolitics), and through practices of representation, visualization, and mapping; those spaces or locations that gain meaning through technologies of surveillance.

Identity: the enduring bodily and psychic perception and conception of self across spacetime(s), including the extension of self through cultural tools, technologies, and virtualities; the disciplining of self through technologies of surveillance; and the imagination or narrativization of self in relation to virtual and actual others or communities.


1. I am particularly interested in Hardt and Negri’s assertion that “The passage to Empire and its processes of globalization offer new possibilities to the forces of liberation….Our political task…is not simply to resist these processes but to reorganize them and redirect them toward new ends” (xv). This reminds me of our strategies/tactics discussion from last week. If Empire is not territorially centralized, as they are claiming, then where and how do strategies of sovereignty originate, and what are some tactics that can turn these global processes? I think the answer partially lies in Philip et al.’s discussion of the “productive possibilities of ‘difference’ itself” (7).

2. I’m wondering about how Mezzandra and Neilson’s discussion of the methods emerging out of the material circumstances of borders relates to Hardt and Negri’s argument that Empire “does not rely on fixed boundaries or barriers” (xii). Of course this is not to say that there aren’t any borders (although they do argue that Empire has no limits) or that borders do not have material implications, but how are our negotiations of borders and boundaries changing as these shift? What are some of the daily effects of Empire’s reterritorializations?

Borders and Empire

by emilywarheit
  1. In Border as Method, I kept getting caught up in thinking about a border as an actual physical thing. When the authors suggest looking at things from a position at/on the border, it is difficult to imagine there being a specific point that we can point to the exact location of a border except in rare geographical cases or where there are landmarks. As far as borders between less defined ideas, how does this methodological viewpoint actually work when borders are constantly shifting?
  2. Counting and sorting through census and maps is a very efficient way of exerting power, and it seems nearly impossible to “undo” in any real way. Is there an ideological or material way to work against these categories and borders established by colonial powers?
  3. The idea of empire makes me think of a dystopian world where corporations can get away with anything, but Hardt and Negri’s description also may have some potential positives. In contrast to imperialism, empire is not concerned with securing land and resources for the metropole, so would this undermine the methods of control described in Anderson’s chapter 10?

Empire – global sovereignty based around national and “supranational” economic organizations rather than the traditional political nation-state.

Week 12: Borders, Computing, and Empire

by jessicavooris

This week’s readings brought us back to thinking about the nation, and pushed us to think more about boundaries, borders, and flows in an era of Empire and globalization.  Various articles also address the question of language–such as its role in creating the nation state–as well as the act of translation across borders.  Furthermore, we are reminded once again that space and time cannot be separated.  Borders, for example are not only spatial but also temporal.

1. I particularly enjoyed Mezzadra and Neilson’s article and the idea of the border as a method.  They write that a method is both an epistemic view as well as a research process, which in this case, “accounts for and reacts to the multifarious battles and negotiations, not least those concerning race, that constitute the border both as an institution and a set of social relationships.” They brought up many good points around the construction of borders, the fact that they are temporal as well as spatial, and the multiplication and division of labor around borders.   However, I wonder what everyone else thinks about the idea of  border as method? Does it work as more than a metaphor, as they argue they are doing?

2.Like Avery, when I was reading the “Postcolonial Computing” article, I thought of the article I read a few weeks ago about Ethiopian kids learning how to use tablets without any instructions. (Which I had linked to in that week’s post.)   Connecting both the news story and Phillip et al’s article brings up questions of language, design and learning, as well as questions of borders, boundaries, the assumptions that we make about “us” versus “them” and knowledge around computing.  Also, how can we read headlines around this experiment such as MSNBC’s “Ethiopian kids turn out to be computer geniuses in tablet trial” in relation to Phillip et al’s discussion around innovation and “native knowledge?” (IE: “Tactic 3, Corrollary: When we see an instance of indigenous science or ‘native’ technology we investigate it not as an instance of inherent difference or autochthonous authenticity but as a practice with the same epistemological status as putatively Western sciences.”)

3. The definition of Empire in the preface of Negri and Hardt and its lack of boundaries and ahistorical nature made me think about whether there is a difference between boundaries and borders and the operation of both.  What does it mean for Empire to in practice be “bathed in blood” while always being “dedicated to peace” in terms of the multiplication of labor and “battles and negotiations” that Mezzadra and Neilson’s article brings attention to in terms of borders?

Space: bound by concepts of borders, which are spatial as well as temporal, distinctions drawn around nation states and related to the flow of people, goods, and labor.

borders and the Empire

by justinsprague

1) I’m interested in Mezzadra’s concepts of labor borders. I wonder how migrant labor borders are reimagined when laborers are working in different nations, promoting that nation’s economic growth, but simultaneously sending remittances back to family in their home countries (ex, Filipino women working as nurses and caregivers in other countries sending critical remittances back home). Even further, I’m interested in the way these bodies occupy liminal spaces where they are economically entrenched in two places but have citizenship rights in neither place due to physical location.

2) The concept of empire, particularly the notion of ‘exception’ reminds me of a book I read in another class, “The Politics of Abandonment,” by A. Povinelli. Specifically, the ways in which those who are able to exert authority do so by rendering others into mythic pasts and the focus on, in this case the global North, and its future possibilities as reasons to condone violence, unfair trade/legislation, and oppressive laws that exempt those with authority from being held accountable to. I can see Hardt speaking somewhat similarly to this idea with the concept of Empire being the crux of globalization, while simultaneously attempting to police those attempting to reorganize or shift power structures.

3) If the ’empire’ is destabilized and deterritorialized, I’m interested in the ways in which the Internet fits into this equation.  How does the Internet, which does not have the same imperial roots and has no stake in them, trouble issues of authority and global flows of information, culture, etc? Can we look at the Internet as the counter empire that Hardt speaks of?

Space – nothingness that is only realized once imagined boundaries and perceived territory are marked, within which tangible and non-tangible bodies can occupy; see also Authority

Borders and Empires

by tatianabenjamin

Space: thinking of space as temporal, space is not fixed and is constantly changing, it might be worth explore how time operates within space, space as time forces us to question the context of space.


1.  I was intrigued by Mezzadra and Nielson’s discussion of borders in relation to transnationalism. I began to think about transnational immigrant deportee bodies, labor, and border crossing. With their reconceptualization of the border it may be possible that deportees can be seen as a project of labor and commodity. If the border is a site of multiplicity then I wonder how deportees operate within the informal economy? Mezzadra and Nielson also forced me to question my use of flow begins to be a monolithic and one directional. This becomes important for my own work because it forces e to account for both the sending and receive country as well as the intersections that transnational subject reside.

2. Reading Dourish’s Postcolonial Computing reminded me of last week’s discussion around strategies and tactics. I think it is interesting that tactics are not only subversive but also serve the purpose being flexible and unstable. In other tactics allow for multiple narratives. Is it possible to see the concept of the transnational subject as a tactic? What kind of narratives and be extracted from the lived experience of transnational bodies?

3. Hadrt, Michael, and Negri’s discussion of empire is a strong analysis for the present. However I wonder about empire and its relationship to bodies. They argue for empire transgressing boundaries; how would empire impact our discussion of bodies as transnational or boundless?