Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: This panel explores the conceptual, methodological and experiential crosshairs of transnational spaces and practices. Much current literature on the transnational draws upon explanatory frames of the global and the local, border-crossing flows, and networks. While these frames have proven useful in making sense of the simultaneity of “glocalization” for instance, or for highlighting connections across transregional locales, this panel asks what thinking about spaces as “transnational” offers our ethnographic cases. We ask what an explicitly spatial and epistemological perspective contributes to analyses of the transnational and global, seeking to make sense of situated global/transnational experiences across space and time. The papers, considering disparate spaces of engagement - Chinese-led development in Central America, para-diplomacy in transnational city-to-city projects, student humanitarian activism for North Korea refugees, South Korean gay chatrooms, and subject formation for Japanese immigrants in pre-WWII urban US - ask how transnational worlds are both conjured and experienced. What does the prefix “trans” suggest in each ethnography, as the global-ness of situated practices shifts in each setting? How is transnationalism differently situated and what are its implications in particular locations? The panel aims to identify shared conceptual tools across diverse ethnographic sites to think through these problematics. It also seeks to move beyond area studies’ tendency to assume an ontological cogency of borders, spaces, and identity, while also analyzing the transnational-ness of situated practices, diverse forms of subjectivity, and mobilities of people, policies, and ideas.