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Borders Make The Difference: Migrant Transnationalism As A Border Experience

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  • RUBEN GIELIS

Abstract

This paper tries to accomplish cross-fertilisation between border studies and transmigration studies, research fields which exist almost separated from each other. It claims that the concept of border can contribute to the theoretical growth to maturity of the relatively young field of transmigration studies, and especially to a deeper understanding of the in-between lifeworlds of transmigrants (migrant transnationalism). In transmigration studies, borders are usually considered as boundaries, the physical lines on the ground, and therefore are seen as beginnings and endings of migrant transnationalism. In this paper, it is argued that borders can also have a constitutive role in migrant transnationalism. This constitutive function of borders has been thoroughly theorised in border studies in the last two decades. Contemporary border scholars regard borders not as passive lines, but as active and polymorphous social constructions which are the outcome of people's need to make differences. By bringing this broader notion of borders to the transmigration debate, it is argued that migrant transnationalism is about experiencing the border, or experiencing the difference. This broader sense of borders might help to bare the soul of migrant transnationalism, namely the condition of being continuously between here and there. Copyright (c) 2009 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG.

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  • Ruben Gielis, 2009. "Borders Make The Difference: Migrant Transnationalism As A Border Experience," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 100(5), pages 598-609, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:tvecsg:v:100:y:2009:i:5:p:598-609
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    1. Philip Kelly & Tom Lusis, 2006. "Migration and the transnational habitus: evidence from Canada and the Philippines," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(5), pages 831-847, May.
    2. Bas Spierings & Martin Van Der Velde, 2008. "Shopping, Borders And Unfamiliarity: Consumer Mobility In Europe," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 99(4), pages 497-505, September.
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