Brock University

Border Crossing: Forms of Diasporic and Transnational Engagement I

The diasporic and transnational movements of people in an era of globalization and neoliberalism have tremendous impact on im/migrants, their countries of origin and the host societies. In recent years, there has been increasing interests in the social, cultural, economic and political relations of these im/migrants and their sending states/societies. This session invites papers which address various forms of transnational engagement. These forms may include but are not limited to the following: political engagement, peace building, spiritual/religious activities, business/entrepreneur endeavours, matrimonial arrangements, and familial networks. The im/migrants may be involved in different levels of political associations (local, regional, state), may have various citizenship status (dual, single, limited, or no citizenship), and may conduct circular or return migration practices.

Session Organizer: Rina Cohen, York University, ; Guida Man, York University,


Transnational Familial and Ethnic Networks and Immigration in Atlantic Canada

Evangelia Tastsoglou, Saint Mary's University, , Serperi Sevgur, Dalhousie University,

This paper derives from a Metropolis-funded study examining the role of transnational familial and ethnic networks of immigrants from the Middle East (broadly defined) in facilitating mobility to and from Atlantic Canada. In the paper we focus on the ongoing links between immigrants in Atlantic Canada and transnational families and ethnic networks, by analyzing relations in the areas of travel, information, employment, community participation, settlement, friendships and social network formation, transnational care, identity and belonging with a gender-based and intersectional analysis. The role of Atlantic Canada as an “immigration corridor” in the context of Canada is discussed.  Our data consist of 46 qualitative interviews from major urban centres in the four provinces of Atlantic Canada and Ontario (Toronto and Ottawa). Findings and theoretical implications pertain to how transnational familial and ethnic networks operate and their significance for migration, settlement and citizenship for immigrant men and women, as well as their role in societies serving as “immigration gates” where settlement is seen as possibly temporary, conditional and exploratory. Our focus on immigrants from the Middle East derives from the fact that they constitute the largest immigrant and ethnic communities of Atlantic Canada.


Transnational Practices and Identity: A Comparative Case Study

Mabel Ho, Graduate Student, University of Western Ontario,

People often maintain ties to their ancestral home country while settling in a new country.   This is done through transnational practices, such as celebrating holidays, investing in property, or raising funds for social movements based in the ancestral homeland.  Research has identified that individuals participating in ethnic organizations are more likely to engage in transnational practices (Kasinitz et al., 2008), however the processes and relationships whereby organizational involvement facilitates these practices remains unclear. This research compares ethnic organizations that differ along two key dimensions.  First, I compare four organizations based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that differ in their organizational foci (either political or cultural).  Second, these four organizations are formed around different ethnic groups that have varying immigration histories in Canada and are established in Canada to different extents.  I examine the influence of participating in four different organizational settings using in-depth interviews, participant observation, and archival information.  Involvement in organizations can foster social ties and connections that channel a particular sense of self and belonging in different communities.  I argue that the organizations can facilitate the transnational practices of individual members and their sense of identity and belonging in both Canada and their ancestral country.


Transnationalism among Irish-Canadian Immigrants – A study of Transnational Practices

Caitlin Thompson, McMaster,

Canada has long been known for its multicultural population, with members of many ethnicities, cultures and races. Due to this, many immigrants are involved in various practices, which keep them connected to their homelands, also known as transnationalism. Studying transnationalism can teach us much about immigrants, and the various relationships and implications of their transnational practices. This paper has focused on the transnational connections Irish-Canadian immigrants have with their unique homeland. Various observations on the social, economic, political and cultural connections were explored through face-to-face interviews. It was found that four shared themes and four differentiating themes were observed among the subjects. The subjects in this study truly exemplify the notion of being ‘here and there’, and all participate in a variety of transnational practices, which are explored in this paper.


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