Transnationalism: Theory and Experience

Term: Spring 2010

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6391

Transnationalism as concept, theory and experience has nourished an important literature in social sciences. In practice transnationalism refers to increasing transborder relations of individuals, groups, firms and to mobilizations beyond state boundaries. Individuals, groups, institutions and states interact with each other in a new global space where cultural and political characteristic of national societies are combined with emerging multilevel and multinational activities. Transnationalism is a part of the process of globalization. For some it is “globalization”.

This interdisciplinary course will take into consideration the organizational aspect of transnationalism : the construction of world wide networks. It will analyze its institutionalization that requires a coordination of activities based most of the time on common references –objective or subjective - and common interest among members; a coordination of resources, information, technology  and sites of social power across national borders for political, cultural, economic purposes. It will refer to transnationalism as a new space of participation beyond territorially delimited nation-states challenging the single allegiance required by membership to a political community represented by one nation and consolidated by one state; it brings to light multiple membership and multiple loyalties leading to a confusion between rights and identity, culture and politics, states and nations, citizenship and territoriality.

The course will discuss these new identifications produced by transnationalism; the emergence of a civil society beyond national borders. It will examine the new social movements and new power relationships with states which are concurrently engaging the process of globalization through economy and culture.   Transnationalism as theory and experience raises normative questions on nation states, its singular power and action. It raises institutional and cultural questions with regard to mobilization of actors and institutions (NGOs Human Rights etc). It also raises juridical questions mainly on how transnationalism gives new strength to the national question and becomes a stake of legitimacy in the international system.  Discussions will focus on methods to study transnationalism, diasporas and transnational communities and the effects on identification of groups and people beyond borders, on the relationship with states, on international politics, the role of Supranational institutions in promoting transnationalism ( values, norms and mobilization), on transnational public space,  on transnational social movements (for example contemporary terrorism),  and on transnationalism and cosmopolitanism.






This interdisciplinary course will try to answer these questions from different examples of transnational experiences based on networks, institutions, cultures, sites and causes for mobilization and will discuss the reach of transnationalism.


< back

Connect with the New School