Globalization, Immigration, and Transnational Studies

Globalization, migration, and the transnationalization of more and more geosocial spaces and life experiences have generated a rich diversity of research questions and, in some instances, entirely novel areas of investigation. A number of overarching, but pressing, questions inform the research and teaching taking place in this area. What kinds of tensions result from the contradictions between the increasingly transnational conditions of life for most people and prevailing nation-state and interstate systems of governance? What does a focus on the conditions, impacts, and outcomes of (neoliberal) globalization in global South societies tell us about the specificities involved in these locations? Should we replace the old narratives of “uneven development,” “underdevelopment/development,” “imperialism,” “dependency,” “center/periphery” – that highlighted relations of inequality between the global South and the global North – with the more flexible concepts of “transnationalism” and “globalization” that transcend the old divides? Within this focal area, these kinds of questions inspire research and teaching that examine both (1) discontinuities and continuities with the past and (2) new social configurations of global/local interactions in diverse societies around the world. Research and teaching interests by faculty in this focal area range from investigations into contentious debates about the political and economic origins of globalization or the continued viability of nation-states to empirical studies about the impact of migration on domestic societies and on migrants themselves.


Globalization (Green, Ackerman, Ma, ScheweKurien)

Members of our faculty study both political/theoretical and empirical conditions of globalization including questions such as the following: how do we reconcile the narrative of the “disappearance of the nation-state” with the recent rise in anti-immigrant and protectionist nationalisms and elected nationalist leaders in countries of the global North? How does transnational corporate capitalism both push people out of their local global South economies and incorporate them as cheap, exploited, and marginalized labor into restructured global North economies? Courses taught in this area inquire into debates about how to understand and historicize globalization, examine the complexities of global political economy and the politics of globalization, and analyze race in comparative perspective. They also discuss a rich variety of empirical cases regarding the transnationalization of social life. Recent and ongoing research projects include examinations of the new Chinese immigrant and state presences in the Caribbean, the framing and social construction of the “illegal immigrant” within U.S. borders, the global agriculture and food system, as well as a study of  Chinese and Western systems of education. 


Immigration and Transnationalism (Lutz, Kurien, Ma, Purser, Schewe, London)

Our faculty features major immigration scholars who have made a name for themselves internationally. Some of the questions that define the field of immigration and transnationalism include the following. To what extent is migration driven by the structural imperatives of uneven development and global inequality and, conversely, how should we account for human agency and related phenomena such as “chain migration” and “cultures of migration”? How does migration create “transnational social fields” of cross-border communities and hybridized cultures and identities on both sides of the border? How are immigrant communities structurally and culturally incorporated into their new societies and what accounts for different forms of incorporation identified by scholars, such as “segmented assimilation” and “ethnic enclave economies”? Research undertaken by our faculty includes scholarship on how race and religion shape the forms and claims of cultural citizenship on the part of South Asian immigrants in the U.S. and Canada, the activism of immigrants around homeland concerns, and an international team-led study looking at the educational and early labor market outcomes among children of immigrants in France and the United States. Other research projects include studies of Vietnamese fishing communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama; predominantly undocumented immigrant dairy workers in upstate New York, and international Chinese students in the U.S.