29th Nov2012

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?

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