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"Et Plus Si Affinités"

Malagasy Marriage, Shifting Post-Colonial Hierarchies, and Policing New Boundaries

Jennifer Cole

In 1999 and 2004, a debate exploded within the Malagasy expatriate community in France after Et Plus Si Affinités, a realist style documentary about arranged marriage between Malagasy women and French men, aired on local television. The series chronicled the adventures of three French bachelors who went to Madagascar to find brides. In this article, I use the reactions to Et Plus Si Affinités as a lens through which to examine changes in Malagasy sexual relations as they are inflected by relations between different ethnic groups in Madagascar, particularly how different groups have historically approached sexual and marital relationships between Malagasy women and French men. Drawing on this case study, I argue that studies of transnational arranged marriage need to attend more closely first to historical representations and the way they figure into transnational marriage, and second to how circulating representations mediate women's agency and their ability to achieve their goals.

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Anastasia Todd

In this article, I analyze critically Miss You Can Do It, an HBO documentary that follows the contestants and their families in a pageant for disabled girls. I explore disabled girls’ affective labor as happy objects and trace how certain exceptional, disabled girls are, in Puar’s sense, recapacitated and enfolded into the national imaginary. Through an analysis of the storyline of Alina Hollis’s adoption as a disabled foreign child, I illustrate how her transnational adoptee status functions in the service of a new, flexible family structure—one that is benevolent, recapacitated by its valuation of disability, and unwaveringly American.

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A geography of debauchery

State-building and the mobilization of labor versus leisure on a European Union border

Gustav Peebles

By comparing the spatial organization of Swedish labor and leisure practices today with the movements and stereotypes tied to previous generations of Sweden's sizeable population of so-called "vagrants," this article studies the impact of state policy on the spatial imagination of both citizens and other sojourners within its bounds. Because the ethnographic research for the article took place in a new transnational city that is being created by the European Union and various local proponents, the article then considers the same issue at the EU level, to pursue the question of the EU's "state-ness" and the status of migrant laborers within that emerging polity.

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The Map and the Territory

The Seventh International Road Congress, Germany 1934

Kristina Skåden

In transnational history of traffic, transport, and mobility, historians have been arguing for studying organizations as “transnational system builders” in the establishment and modification of transnational infrastructure. Emphasis has been placed on examining human actors. Here, I argue that the role of material objects, the nonhuman actors, should also be taken into account by investigating how a particular map matters. The major research issue is, therefore: How can we understand and analyze how the Nazi regime put the map Deutschlandkarte displayed at the exhibition Die Strasse (Munich, 1934) into play? In addition, how did the map figure in transnational system building during and after the seventh International Road Congress arranged by the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses? Insights from transnational history in the fields of traffic, transport, and mobility as well as material cultural studies, critical mapping, and actor-network theory inform this article.

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Nirmala Erevelles and Xuan Thuy Nguyen

When we first proposed this special issue on “Disability and Girlhood: Transnational Perspectives,” we had not yet realized how the urgency in the global humanitarian crises that has escalated in intensity and scope of violence in recent months would demand our thoughtful attention. These crises, the outcomes of social protest, wars, and genocidal acts in many parts of the world for over a decade, punctuated by the Paris bombings of November 2015 that took the lives of 130 innocent citizens; the widespread displacement of 4 million Syrian refugees from their homeland; the increased militarization at the borders of the European Union and the United States; and the environmental impact of this war of terror on the daily survival of disabled and non-disabled people around the globe continue unabated. On the internet, photographic images of women and children with disabilities (and girls in particular) serve as the very embodiment of vulnerability in competition with thousands of other images of suffering (see for instance, Human Rights Watch 2012) vying for the attention of an impatient and fickle global audience (Goggin 2009; Kim 2011). In these images, disability, seen to be synonymous with vulnerability becomes simultaneously hypervisible in its ability to trigger an affective response and hyper-invisible when inspiring an emancipatory response to the material consequences of actually living with a disability.

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The Preludes to Migration

Anticipation and Imaginings of Mexican Immigrant Adolescent Girls

Lilia Soto

This article explores the immigrant journeys of Mexican immigrant adolescent girls raised in transnational families. Based on interviews conducted with this young cohort I examine how they experienced migration long before they neared the United States-Mexico border. Using a transnational approach to migration and the intersections of gender and age as analytical categories, I highlight how Mexican immigrant adolescent girls are uniquely situated within their families so as to have a different set of experiences from men, women, and adolescent boys. Their stories reveal that before migration their lives were saturated, because of their parents' departures and visits, with anticipation and imaginings about Napa Valley, California, and with interruptions of migration. Their lives always seemed to be on the brink of migration. This also means that the very reason for their parents' migration—to better provide for their children—placed the children en route, as it were, to the United States.

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Allen Chun

Contrary to what people tend to think and the way current diplomacy still defines the situation, I argue that Taiwan may very well be the first “transnational nation.” Few recognized its international presence, until it became a major exporter to the world economy, a change of status and policy that was really the consequence of its expulsion from the United Nations (following diplomatic recognition of the PRC). Its subsequent attempts to jockey for admission into the United Nations can largely be seen as a strategy to build upon its newly established role as a world economic player. One significant feature of transnational capitalism is reflected in Taiwan’s success, which demonstrates that the official status of nation was not important or relevant to its development in economic and other terms. Thus, in this era of transnational flows, one might say, national identity, cultural consciousness, and territorial boundedness are clearly secondary. In some senses, this seems to be true, but this is overly simplistic. The end of organized capitalism, as advocated by Lash and Urry (1987), has led many to believe that the free flow of transnational capital has broken down national barriers in respect to all other kinds of flows, but in fact, transnational flows of people have been regulated by and subject to other kinds of forces, political as well as cultural in nature, that have disrupted emerging forms of cosmopolitanism and even threaten to expose deeper conservative if not reactionary biases in the constitution of traditional society. 1 In Taiwan, the growing emergence of transnational cosmopolitanism, runs parallel with the increasing rhetorical importance of multiculturalism. However, the latter is the product more precisely of a wave of cultural ‘indigenization.’ At a deeper level, both (cosmopolitan) ‘transnationalism’ and (indigenous) ‘multiculturalism’ are, in my opinion, largely incompatible and mask an imminent future crisis.

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Mapping Solidarity

How Public Anthropology Provides Guidelines for Advocacy Networks

Raúl Acosta

Current transnational networks of non-governmental organizations and social movements have challenged nation-states' policy designs. Their increasing political legitimacy, however, is matched by cultural friction and misunderstandings among their members and stakeholders. This paper argues that anthropological insights may provide maps that can help shape advocacy networks' guidelines for action. Just as social analysts of past centuries provided the language and imagined forms of social organization from systematic examinations of events, anthropologists can help explain current relations and processes within fluid structures in order to improve their practices and results. This idea is illustrated by the examination of a single socio-environmental advocacy network in the Brazilian Amazon: 'Y Ikatu Xingu. This network was chosen because it brings together stakeholders from contrasting backgrounds, thus highlighting its intercultural challenges. Some members of the convening NGOs were anthropologists, whose work is focused on helping bridge understandings of environment and coexistence. The network was therefore strongly influenced by anthropological insights.

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Ferdinand and the Sultan

The Metaphor of the Turk and the Crisis of the Spanish Monarchy in the Early Nineteenth Century

Juan Luis Simal and Darina Martykánová

King Ferdinand VII of Spain was often compared to the Ottoman sultan. It was a rhetorical operation that continued a tradition in Western Christendom by which Christian rulers were compared to oriental despots not because they were considered to be equal to them, but to show how far astray from the ideal of good government they were. This article examines the multiple dimensions of this comparison. To what extent was it a reaffirmation of the construction of the Turk as a radical other? Or were there new essential elements, and therefore the metaphor of the Turk can also be interpreted within a new universalistic discourse that opposed tyrants to oppressed peoples across cultural and religious barriers? Our examination leads to a reflection on the transnational character of the discursive frameworks in which the metaphor of the Turk was built and rebuilt, on its circulation and limits, and on its specific uses.

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Marja Spierenburg, Conrad Steenkamp and Harry Wels

The Great Limpopo is one of the largest Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in the world, encompassing vast areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. The TFCA concept is embraced by practically all (international) conservation agencies. The rationale for the support is that the boundaries of ecosystems generally do not overlap with those of the nation-state. Their protection requires transnational cooperation. By arguing that local communities living in or close to TFCAs will participate and benefit economically, TFCA proponents claim social legitimacy for the project. However, analysis shows that communities first have to live up to rigid standards and requirements set by the international conservation authorities, before they are considered ‘fit’ to participate. Communities attempt to resist this type of marginalization by forming alliances with (inter)national development and human rights NGOs, with mixed results.