In precarious motion: from territorial to transnational cultures

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Date: Aug. 1997
Publisher: Canadian Sociological Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,713 words

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Abstract :

In spite of an effort to reorient ethnographic practice away from territorial cultures, recent anthropological treatments of the "transnational" have tended to rely on cases that closely approximate localized communities of traditional ethnography. This kind of focus, however, cannot address the more diffuse and disaggregated outcomes of globalization. This essay examines the convergent orientations and limitations of two influential anthropological renderings of transnational social and cultural fields. It then reviews the case of North American and European expatriates working on temporary labour contracts in the Cayman Islands, where insecure employment and residence conditions, cross-border mobility and a sense of displacement have not resulted in the development of a well-articulated transnational social network. In considering the implications of the Cayman case study, I suggest that anthropologists may have to accept the loss of collectivity as a conceptual and epistemological anchor in order to address the situations of the many unconnected travellers and migrants whose movements do not involve the reproduction of transnational aggregates.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A20574397