Society for Economic Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Drawing upon research within the Liberian diaspora I explore the theoretical implications of a highly significant, yet little-considered, effect of transnationalism: whereby particular individuals come to occupy more than one socio-economic “class” at the very same time—a condition I term “class dimorphism”. I explore how the resulting janus-faced experience with the negotiation of “contradictive opportunity structures” powerfully shapes socio-economic practices of transnational migrants, including return (and non-return), investment in social and economic capital, and subscription to identity—all of which impact the organization of diasporan associational life, while also transforming the political economies of—and political contests within-- the transnational fields in which homelands and diasporas are mutually implicated. I suggest that a focus on transnational social practices --which were largely absent from the sociological imagination when the concept of “class” was originally theorized or in the debates about it ever since- -compel a productive rethinking of theoretical approaches to socio-economic differentiation, and the development of a new conceptual vocabulary more capable of addressing the mutual entanglements of the multiple mobilities that emerge in, and from, transnational social praxis.