Societies Beyond Borders? New Perspectives in Transnational Studies

Country: France

City: Paris

Abstr. due: 15.12.2014

Dates: 17.09.15 — 18.09.15

Area Of Sciences: Sociology; Political science;

Organizing comittee e-mail:



Over the past quarter century, a broad range of social phenomena long examined by researchers largely or exclusively within the perimeters and through the lenses of nation-states have come to be re-examined in broader and more de-territorialized contexts, unbound by national limits. Increasing attention to economic exchanges and processes of class formation (see for example Strange 1989; Palan ed. 2000; Robinson 2003, references below), migratory movements (Basch, Glick Schiller and Szanton Blanc, 1994; Portes 1998; Levitt 2001, and many others), mobilizations (Keck and Sikkink 1998; Tarrow 2005; Smith and Wiest 2012), knowledge and culture (Joseph, Legrand and Salvatore eds. 1998), criminal activities (Zilberg 2011) and indeed to all sorts of border-crossing social phenomena, has led to the emergence and consolidation of transnational perspectives in several areas of the human and social sciences. This trend has been accompanied by a strong impulse in historiography to move away from nation- and state-centered histories toward differentiated scales of analysis affording greater attention to international exchanges and “trans-local” connections of all sorts (see Caillé and Dufoix eds., 2013). “Methodological nationalism” (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2003) has been identified as epistemological obstacle to be overcome.

The Center for Research on the English-Speaking World (CREW) of the University of Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle, whose activities are primarily centred on the British Isles, North America (the U.S. and Canada) and other anglophone regions of the world, has taken an increasing interest in transnational perspectives through research objects ranging from Latin American immigration to the United States to various trans-regional free trade agreements and phenomena of interlingualism, to name just a few examples. On September 17-18, 2015, the CREW will be hosting an international colloquium to bring together scholars from a broad range of academic fields who have innovated in transnational approaches or in one way or another put them to fruitful and creative use.

It is, of course, possible to exaggerate the importance of transnationalism by magnifying it into an inexorable globalizing logic that tends inevitably to diminish the sovereignty of nation-states and the pertinence of national boundaries, institutions and solidarities (see, for example, the reservations of Waldinger 2004). However, studies of transnationalism do not claim fully to replace or supersede studies focusing on states and national formations. In some cases national sovereignty and national identifications reassert themselves “with a vengeance”, in ways that challenge transnationalizing logics, sometimes frontally. The purpose of the conference is not to promote transnationalism as an all-encompassing perspective, but rather to examine it as an angle of vision of growing importance for social research.

The purpose of this gathering will be to pursue discussions about the directions new research is taking or could take, in terms of theory, methodology or choice of objects. The following areas will be privileged, although proposals falling outside these fields will also be considered if they promise to open new pathways in transnational studies more generally.

- social history, including colonial/imperial history, transnational social movements in colonial and post-colonial contexts;
- migrations studies, including history, geopolitics and political economy, sociology/ethnography, as well as the cultural dimension and the politics of migrant transnationalism;
- sociology of international/transnational relations involving various categories of state and non-state actors, such as non-profit organizations, multinational firms, financial actors etc.; dynamics and stakes of regional and cross-regional models of economic integration;
- sociology of transnational mobilizations and social movements of all sorts, including labor movements, women’s movements, ecology and global justice movements;
- media and communications studies, including history/sociology/political economy of communications and the media; media theory in its transnational dimension;
- epistemic communities and the transnational circulation of ideas;
- public policy studies in their international/transnational and comparative dimension; the circulation of ideas, theories, and models of public policy. Models of citizenship: multiculturalisms, republicanisms, anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies.

Keynote speakers confirmed:

Nina Glick Schiller, emeritus professor of social anthropology, University of Manchester (U.K.), member of the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures;

Robert O’Brien, professor political science, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) and associate editor of Global Labour Journal.

Submission : Proposals for papers, to be presented orally, in English or French, in about 20 minutes, may be submitted to the organizers (see addresses below) by December 15, 2014. Replies will be made by January 30, 2015. Proposals should fit on one page and include some bibliographical references. Authors are asked to include in their e-mail message a short autobiography and summary of their works.

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