Transnational Communities


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How immigrant communities are building social fields across boundaries and the importance of these network links to immigrant integration success.

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Transnational Communities

  1. 1. Transnational Communities-- not your grandfather’s diaspora Framingham State University Alvaro Lima, September 2012
  2. 2. AGENDA:I. What is “Immigrant Transnationalism”?II. Traditional versus Transnational LensesIII. Measuring TransnationalismIV. Some Implications of TransnationalismV.  Innovation Portfolio
  3. 3.   Traditionally immigration policies have been almost entirely focused on procedures and prohibitions governing admissions (who? how many? and what kind of immigrants should be admitted?).
  4. 4.   There is a widespread belief that migration is caused by poverty, economic stagnation, and overpopulation in the countries of origin unrelated to receiving countries’ foreign policies, economic needs and broader international economic conditions;  While overpopulation, poverty, and economic stagnation all create pressures for migration, there are systematic, structural relations between globalization and migration flows with worldwide evidence of a considerable patterning in the geography of migrations. poverty stagnation overpopulation etc…
  5. 5. Foreign-Born Population of Rich OECD Countries from Developing Countries Population Top Five Total from Percent of Source Top Five Source Country Population Developing Total Countries Countries (millions) Countries Population (percent of (millions) total)United States 281.4 10.1 45.2 Mexico, Philippines, Puerto 28.4 Rico, India, China Morocco, Ecuador,Spain 40.8 1.5 3.7 44.2 Colombia, Argentina, VenezuelaFrance 58.5 3.7 6.4 20.4 Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, VietnamUK 58.8 5.1 30.1 India, Pakistan, 3.0 Bangladesh, Jamaica, South AfricaNetherlands 16.0 1.2 7.6 48.6 Suriname, Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, Netherlands AntillesPortugal 10.4 0.5 4.5 62.8 Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, Cape Verde, VenezuelaJapan 127 1.0 69.6 North Korea, South Korea, 1.2 China, Brazil, PhilippinesSource: Let Their People Come, Lant Pritchett, 2006
  6. 6.   Immigrant integration policies (education, training, placement, ESOL, health care, entrepreneurship, citizenship, etc..) are skeletal, ad hoc, under-funded and dominated by the ideology of assimilation;  As Nathan Glazer puts it, “the settlement, adaptation, and progress, or lack of it, of immigrants is largely, in the U.S. context, up to them.” labor market language acquisition housing education etc…
  7. 7.   Re-integration policies for those returning are generally inexistent making the re-settlement process prone to failure feeding back emigration: labor market housing education etc…
  8. 8. What is “Immigrant Transnationalism”? Regular, frequent engagement in economic, political and socio-culturalactivities in both countries:
  9. 9. Drivers of Transnationalism:  Developments in the means of transportation and communications have changed the relations between people and places (costs);  International migrations have become crucial to the demographic future of many developed countries;  Global political transformations and new international legal regimes weakened the state as the only legitimate source of rights;  Fostered by global consumption, global production, and immigration, cultural hybridization are substituting folkloric romanticism and political nationalism enshrined as essences of national cultures;
  10. 10.   Contexts of exit and modes of incorporation facilitate or impede, foster or discourage, demand or preclude some or all of the cross-border activities: Contexts of Exit and Incorporation Context of Incorporation: Context of Exit:   Inclusion & Exclusion Structures   Education Level   Alien versus Citizenship Rights   Race and Ethnicity   Government and Other Support Systems   Family Wealth   Race and Ethnicity Structures   Urban versus Rural Origin   Etc.   Government Support Structures   Etc. Transnational Country of Social Field Settlement Transnational Country Non-migrants migrants Transnational activities embedded in of Origin transnational social fields
  11. 11. Traditional versus Transnational LensesTraditional Lenses: Transnational Lenses:  immigration conceptualized as a bipolar relation   immigration conceptualized as flows of cross- between sending and receiving countries border economic, political and social-cultural (moving from there to here) activities (being here and there)  emigration is the result of individual search for   emigration is the result of geopolitical interests, economic opportunity, political freedom, etc. global linkages, and economic globalization  migrants are assumed to be the poorest of the   migrants are not the poorest of the poor nor do poor they come from the poorest nations  immigrants occupy low-skilled jobs in   growth in the service and technology-based jobs agriculture, construction, and manufacturing create opportunities for low as well as high skilled migrants  Immigrants steadily shift their contextual focus,   After the initial movement, migrants continue to economic and social activities to receiving maintain ties with their country of origin country  immigration should not bring about significant   immigration creates hybrid societies with a change in the receiving society richer cultural milieu 11
  12. 12. Monthly Remittance by Nationality $875 $900 $800 $700 MEASURING $600 TRANSNATIONALISM $500 ABOVE AVERAGE $398 $400 AVERAGE = $294 $331 $278 $274 $300 BELOW AVERAGE $218 $192 $188 $185 $177 $200 $113 $100 $- Purchasing of Nostalgic Products Among Brazilians 50.0% 45.4% Financial Accounts in Country of Origin - Brazil 45.0% 40.0% 37.6% 35.0%40.0% 30.0%35.0% 25.0% 20.5% 28.9% 17.8% 20.0%30.0% 26.0% 15.0%25.0% 10.0% 5.1% 4.9% 3.7% 5.0% 1.6% 0.8% 0.2%20.0% 0.0%15.0%10.0% 5.5%5.0% 1.6% 0.3%0.0% Does not Checking Savings Credit card Investment Foreign have / NR account account account currency savings
  13. 13. Help Beyond Remittances50.0% 46.6%45.0%40.0% 36.80%35.0% ABOVE AVERAGE30.0% 27.0% 22.7%25.0% AVERAGE = 19.2% 20.0%20.0% 15.3% 14.0% BELOW AVERAGE15.0% 10.3% 9.1%10.0% 5.7% 3.7% 5.0% 0.0% Support of Hometown Associations 30.0% 26.3% 25.0% MEASURING 20.0%TRANSNATIONALISM 15.0% ABOVE AVERAGE 12.4% 10.0% 10.0% AVERAGE = 6.7% 6.7% 5.0% 4.0% 3.5% BELOW AVERAGE 5.0% 3.3% 2.8% 2.4% 0.0% 0.0% 13
  15. 15. Some Implications of Transnationalism:  Portability becomes crucial for transnational migrants – education and certification processes; investment and retirement schemes, health insurance, etc.;  Concepts such as “local development,” “local community” and “social capital” must be redefined as space of flows (relationships) instead of just geographic places to accommodate transnational behavior;  Transnational immigrant entrepreneurs’ contribution to the revitalization of inner city neighborhoods across the U.S. is vital and entrepreneurial support systems should adapt to serve them;  Nation-state ideals of identity in both sending and receiving countries are challenged by transnational practices;  States must re-conceive immigration and adapt their policies and practices to accommodate transnational realities;
  16. 16. 1st Generation Innovation Portfolio:Digaai.comTransnational IndexDiaspora Capital ServicesEnglish for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)Transnational FellowsThe Role of Transnational Immigrant Organizations
  17. 17. What if… (scenario 2)   2 million Brazilians around the world:   communicate home with each other (social networking)   register their experience/build unique archives through video, photos, etc.   search newspapers, magazines, websites, etc.   contribute to Brazilian diaspora wiki   store personal information using private web space 17
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. Transnational Index   What:   Data and survey-based ranking of communities by their degree of transnationalism   Published annually in partnership with national media   Why:   create awareness among policy makers of transnational phenomena   identify social and commercial innovation opportunities for transnational immigrant communities   build consciousness among transnational immigrants of unique potential 19
  20. 20. Designing the Index