Handbook of Research Methods in Migration
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Handbook of Research Methods in Migration

Edited by Carlos Vargas-Silva

Covering both qualitative and quantitative topics, the expert contributors in this Handbook explore fundamental issues of scientific logic, methodology and methods, through to practical applications of different techniques and approaches in migration research.
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Chapter 4: Transnational – Transregional – Translocal: Transcultural

Dirk Hoerder


Dirk Hoerder This chapter presents a historicized approach that integrates levels and concepts: Transcultural Societal Studies. Methodologically, this interdisciplinary approach is capable of combining the advantages of disciplineconstrained approaches. Since the early 1990s, scholars have increasingly used ‘transnational’ as an anchor term for interpretations of migrants’ continuing relations with their nation-states of origin. The concept is complex, contested, and ambiguous. It has both a long history – transnationalism before the nation-state in one awkward formulation – and is applied to diverse phenomena. As a practice it has been interpreted as liberating migrants from the constraints of nation-states and their bordered identities or as destructive to social cohesion and as opening countries to assumed threats of the most recent globalization. In contrast to ‘inter’-national which posits two distinct polities in formalized contact by diplomacy, warfare, border-crossing trade, or other, ‘trans’ dissolves the separating qualities of borderlines to a degree. It combines lived spaces with the ‘beyond,’ conceptualizes the national as connected to the distant ‘other.’ ‘People, ideas, and institutions do not have clear national identities. Rather, people may translate and assemble pieces from different cultures.’ Instead of taking things and ideas to be distinctively national, elements may begin or end somewhere else (Bentley, 2005; Thelen, 1992, p. 436). This chapter will first discuss historic practices and conceptualizations of ‘transcultural,’ and will then discuss usages of ‘transnationalism’ in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and outline the debate since the concept’s reintroduction in the 1990s. In a second section it will develop translocal...

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