Material layers of transnational social fields

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Material layers of transnational social fields

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Publication Other
Title Material layers of transnational social fields
Author(s) Povrzanovic Frykman, Maja
Date 2010
English abstract
The main objective of this paper is to discuss the relevance of producing ethnographically founded knowledge of the roles of objects in the creation and maintenance of migrants’ transnational social fields. It also claims the importance of ethnographically founded knowledge about migrants as people whose everyday lives encompass locations in different nation-states, and not as bearers of ethnic identities. A common way of reasoning about migrants and objects is that objects signal a person’s identity and aid memory. In contrast, this paper pursues an interest in how objects constitute the world experienced by migrants in terms of its materiality. The presumed contribution is twofold, namely to the discipline of ethnology and the interdisciplinary field of migration research. With its focus on objects used in everyday life, the approach promoted in this paper differs significantly from the studies that prioritise a discursive formation of identities. The study of objects that are used, sent, received, refused and struggled with in the realm of transnational social fields intends to contribute to the epistemological balance of ethnological understanding of people’s identities as equally importantly positioned in material and discursive terms and equally importantly defined by practices and representations. If the importance of ethnicity is treated as an empirical question, and not as an assumed explanatory ground, a decisive step is taken beyond the ethnicity paradigm in migration research. The author claims that research-based contributions are welcome, towards a more complex understanding of the multiplicity of migrants’ positions, practices and identities, the perception of which may be hindered by a sole focus on their ethnicity, and by the presumption that they are ‘members’ or ‘representatives’ of any groups or communities. Comprehensive comparisons are suggested, based on extensive micro-studies of individuals’ strategies of creation and maintenance of transnational social fields. Thick descriptions (based both on observations and narratives) of specific trajectories and practical uses can contribute to a better understanding of the material layers of transnational spaces.
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Publisher CEIFO, Stockholm University
Host/Issue Programme and abstracts for the International conference on TRANSMIG: Transnational Practices in Migration, RICC, IMISCOE, CEIFO, 4-5 November 2010
Pages p 20
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) transnational social fields
material practices
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Social anthropology/ethnography
Note TRANSMIG: Transnational Practices in Migration, RICC, IMISCOE, CEIFO, Stockholm, 4-5 November 2010
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