AMST 8920: Thinking Through Transnationalism: Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation
Professor M. Bianet Castellanos
Department of American Studies
Fall 2010 Wednesdays, 1:25-3:20 pm
Wulling Hall 220
The purpose of this course is to critically engage with the concept of "transnationalism"
through an examination of its intellectual genealogy. Since the mid-1990s, social
scientists have appropriated this concept in an effort to understand global flows of
people, capital, technology, and ideas. Not surprisingly, these studies have been
criticized on the one hand for being too narrow in scope because they focus on a limited
group of people engaged in such activities, and on the other hand for becoming an all-
encompassing catch phrase for economic and social practices associated with recent
globalizing trends. This course will explore the usefulness of this concept for explaining
and criticizing the cultural logics of globalization and the everyday practices of people
living within these new social spaces.
We will trace the evolution of this term from its origins in finance to its use in queer
theory and studies of migration, gender, class, race, and nationalism. The latter part of
the course will be dedicated to reading texts that employ a transnational framework
and will provide a forum for examining more critically the ways this concept is used
and deployed by scholars to discuss the politics of place, displacement, gender,
sexuality, race, and citizenship. We will also interrogate the methodologies these
scholars used to map out transnational practices.