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Transnational Communities Programme

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Overview

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In 1997 the UK Economic and Social Research Council commissioned a new national research programme to look into the human dimensions of globalisation and aspects of emerging transnationalism. A sum of 3.8 million was allocated to the Programme and it is a research initiative of the University of Oxford Faculty of Anthropology and Geography.  Its Director is Professor Steven Vertovec.

Programme Objectives

The Programme involves 19 projects, some within a single discipline, but most linking several. While the programme’s Directorship is based in Oxford, the projects are conducted from a variety of British universities with multi-site research to be undertaken throughout the world. The Programme was planned to run until the summer of 2002, although it has been given a six month extension to disseminate findings.

Both individually and collectively, the projects will broaden our understanding of the new and increasingly significant place of globe-spanning social networks in labour, business and commodity markets, political movements and cultural flows. The programme concentrates on an actor-directed view of globalisation -- ‘globalisation from below’.

Present-day transnational communities are uniquely at once the products of, and catalysts for, contemporary globalisation processes. This is particularly evident in their utilisation of modes of telecommunication and transport, in their pooling of resources and patterns of investment or remittance, and in their successful exploitation of new international markets. Moreover, the social forms, political challenges, cultural resources and group identities generated by the linkage of groups in several geographical locations represent an increasingly important dimension of the shift toward new kinds of cosmopolitanism described in much work on globalisation. It is likely that transnational communities will play an ever more important role in shaping world-wide social, cultural, economic and political processes.

Research areas/topics

Research into the dynamics of transnational communities must be approached from inter-disciplinary perspectives. Yet the programme projects will be linked by common methodological concerns surrounding the formation and maintenance of community (based especially on social, economic and political networks), the construction and expression of identity (including the refashioning of cultural forms and symbols), and the reproduction or contestation of social relations (especially involving issues of gender). Research concentrates on four areas:

1. NEW APPROACHES TO MIGRATION
  • Comparative Diasporas
  • Transversal Migration
  • Refugees and Asylum-Seekers
3. POLITICS
  • Global Political Networks
  • City, Region, National and Supra-National Policies
  • Gender, Communities and Power
2. ECONOMICS
  • Global Economic Networks
  • Transnational Corporations (TNCs)
  • Transnational Household Strategies
4. SOCIETY AND CULTURE
  • Social Forms and Institutions
  • Cultural Reproduction and Consumption
  • Transnational Religious Communities

Programme Management

The Programme Director, in conjunction with an Advisory Board and the ESRC, will develop and implement a Communication Strategy for the programme. This will enable knowledge exchange with users (government and industry, NGOs) and the wider public. Programme findings are disseminated through workshops, seminars and annual conferences, a regularly updated Internet home page, working papers, refereed journal articles, edited volumes and books published within two programme-based series.

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