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ZiF Cooperation Group

Transnationalisation and Development(s): Concepts and Venues for Research

October 2008 - February 2009

Convenors: Thomas Faist (Bielefeld, GER)

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The central puzzle addressed by the Cooperation Group is: On the one hand public and academic debates in the newest round of the migration-development nexus address mostly one-way flows, that is, the transfer of resources from North or West to South and East. These transfers include financial remittances, human capital, knowledge and even so-called social remittances, such as the export of democracy and human rights. Like the older ones in the 1960s and 1980s, the current debate is couched in terms of development and development cooperation. On the other hand, studies taking a transnational approach suggest that we do not see one-way traffic but two-way flows. There is the silent backwash of remittances, that is, a massive flow of resources from South to North. Examples include 'brain drain', student tuition fees, and even 'reverse remittances', such as families of migrants paying for their kinfolk to legalize their status. In addressing this puzzle, the Cooperation Group takes a novel approach at North/West to South/East relations in using a transnational lens. Moreover, a transnational approach helps to connect the mostly parallel and disjointed policy discussions on immigrant incorporation and development cooperation.
The Cooperation Group "Transnationalisation and Development(s): Venues for Further Research" will continue and deepen the work begun at the Working Group meeting at ZiF in May and June 2007. The group focuses on the emergence and constitution of a new type of agent in development discourse and policy, that is, cross border migrants and their associations-denoted by terms such as 'diaspora' and 'transnational community'. These social formations include diverse collectives such as kinship groups and systems, hometown associations, professional networks, business networks, and communities of practice. While the Working Group has charted the terrain of transnationalisation and development(s) in discussing epistemological and methodological issues and in sketching research venues, the Cooperation Group intends to deepen insights by focusing on selected aspects in five issue areas: economic processes and labour markets; politics and public policy; knowledge networks; socio-cultural dimensions: ethnicity, religion and gender; and conflicts and conflict mediation. The Cooperation Group continues the interdisciplinary thrust in inviting participants from Sociology, Political Science, Social Anthropology, Geography and Economics.







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