Dahinden, Janine

Transnationalism reloaded: the historical trajectory of a concept

In this commentary, I discuss the importance of Portes, Guarnizo and Landolt’s article, focusing on three specific points. First, I argue that this 1999 article represented a turning point in transnational migration studies, in that it made it possible to address important weaknesses in this field of study. Second, I reflect on the article’s lack of reference to the nation-state and its power to shape transnational fields. Third, I argue that the cumulative knowledge gained over the last two decades – triggered in part by the claims of this 1999 article – have been steadily integrated into this field of investigation, rendering possible important theoretical alterations. These insights have made possible a shift towards a new stance, a transnational perspective whose specific epistemology makes it possible to develop explanatory frameworks for current transformation processes and to revise social theory more generally.