The Transnationalism Project: what your children are learning in college

12 December 2011

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The Transnationalism Project at the University of Chicago

Transnational flows of capital, people, information and images are transforming our worlds; they are also challenging researchers to develop new theoretical and methodological practices to study and account for them. The TransNationalism Project takes on this challenge. An interdisciplinary research group of faculty and students under the direction of Saskia Sassen, Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology, the TNP aims to foster collaborative and innovative research into these dynamics through the development of new theoretical perspectives and methodological frameworks. Toward this end, the TNP provides several forums — workshops, an annual conference, and informal discussion groups — for junior scholars studying transnational flows and processes.

The Transnationalism Project’s current research projects are the following:

  • Global Governance – The multiplication of cross-border governance mechanisms: implications for democracy and global order, and
  • Migration – The interdisciplinary study of international migration, conducted in conjunction with the Human Rights Program

Saskia Sassen

Workshop Coordinator and Research Associate
Kathleen Fernicola

Mailing Address
13 Judd Hall
5838 S. Kimbark Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 USA
Telephone: (773) 834 4685

Please address all workshop and conference related inquiries to Kathleen Fernicola. You may also refer questions about the activities of the Transnationalism Project to Evalyn Tennant at the Center for International Studies (, 773-834 3852).

Workshop on the Sociologies and Cultures of Globalization

Please visit the conference website at


The 7th annual Globalization Conference
Theorizing Globalization: Contemporary Perspectives
Friday, May 6th, 2005 Public Opening Session, Speakers & Reception
Saturday, May 7th, 2005 Student Presentation

See for more information.

Global Governance and Democratic Deficits

The Multiplication Of Cross-Border Governance Mechanisms: Implications For Democracy And Global Order

Saskia Sassen
Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology
University of Chicago
December 2001

Major transformations since the 1980s have contributed to a proliferation of partial, often highly specialized, mechanisms for the cross-border governance of a growing number of processes and institutions. There is considerable heterogeneity in the key institutional features of these mechanisms, their level of formalization and transparency, the extent of their incorporation into national legal systems, and the extent to which they operate in the public domain or are private self-regulatory initiatives. There is also considerable variation in how these mechanisms for governance relate or interact with national law and with international treaty law and custom.

All together this produces an enormously complex and dynamic context for the larger question of global governance. The particular concern guiding our project consists of two distinct matters:

  • First, what is the emergent structure of global governance resulting from this multiplicity of partial, often highly specialized mechanisms?
  • Second, on a more heuristic and methodological level, what do the events of September 11 and its aftermath make legible in terms of the strengths and the deficiencies of this emergent structure for global governance.

There is a rapidly growing scholarly and research literature that covers particular governance mechanisms and has contributed an enormous amount of knowledge to the subject. What is lacking is a well-developed analysis of

  • how these various mechanisms cohere or not,
  • whether they constitute emergent regimes,
  • what are the tensions and synergies among them, whether they are mutually supportive or not,
  • what is left out of the picture, and
  • what remains unrecognized and unnamed.

In the first phase of this project, currently underway, we are beginning to map these issues in order to develop a larger and long-term project with a highly developed focus and methodology. At this stage, we are developing coordinated overviews of the field of global governance as constituted through the multiple specialized mechanisms and self-coordinated initiatives that have been developed and operate today. In part, this entails a preliminary and somewhat schematic mapping of these multiple governance mechanisms and activities. Also entailed is a preliminary exploration of what is falling between the cracks, with special attention to what September 11 and its aftermath have made clear about our existing apparatus for global governance. Of particular concern are the implications for democratic participation and public accountability of global governance systems, on the one hand, and their positivie and/or negative impacts on national democratic and accountability mechanisms, on the other…

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Global Migration Project

The Global Migration module of the Transnationalism Project is an evolving collaborative and interdisciplinary investigation of the causes and consequences of migration and its regulation. The faculty researchers—Saskia Sassen, Director of the Transnationalism Project and Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology; Susan Gzesh, Director of the Human Rights Program and Lecturer in the Law School; and Mae Ngai, Assistant Professor of History—are undertaking research into several of the key processes shaping migration dynamics. Initial funding for the GMP has been provided by a grant from the Dean of the Social Sciences.

International migration is produced by several key dynamics that have gained strength over the last decade and particularly since September 11, 2001. These dynamics lie within and across the traditional domains of several different social sciences disciplines as well as law, and the premise of our project is that their study will benefit greatly from interdisciplinary faculty collaboration. Among the most prominent of the key dynamics are the following:

1. economic conditions in poorer countries which are likely to function as inducements for emigration and trafficking in people especially given the “bridges” created by economic globalization connecting poor and rich countries.

2. the demographic deficit forecast for much of the global north, particularly for Western Europe and Japan, with a sharp absolute fall in population size and a sharp increase in the share of people over 65 years of age; this is likely to lead to the need for more immigration as a way of expanding the workforce.

3. the increasingly restrictive regulation of immigration in the Global North, with new restrictions after September 11; this regulation occurs in a context of expanded and strengthened civil rights and human rights throughout the Global North for citizens and to some extent for permanent resident aliens.

The organizing hypothesis is that in a context of globalization and the associated forms of (often forced) inter-state collaboration, some of the tensions between the key dynamics identified above are exploding the boundaries of the legal, political, and ideological instruments through which the developed countries have handled in-migration formally and practically. Our research focus will therefore be on the formal and practical features of the tension between, on the one hand, increasingly restrictive immigration policies in much of the global north and, on the other, the growing military, economic and political interdependencies worldwide. These interdependencies are facilitating multiple types of cross-border flows between immigrant sending and receiving communities, are producing new migrations and refugee flows, and are facilitating the global circulation of human rights and civil rights both as instruments and as aspirations.

The first phase of our research, being undertaken during 2002-03 with internal support from the University of Chicago, singles out three key features of this configuration of restrictive policies and increasing interdependencies, and by restricting our focus at this point to the case of the U.S. and some of its major sending countries. …

This section is a must-read and continues here.

Links and Resources

Papers by Saskia Sassen (download as PDFs)

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The entire website is worth exploring at The University of Chicago.

H/T The Nh Teaparty on Facebook.

CAJ note: As a former designer and PR person I note the colors of this site are black, grey, and green. That gives me lots of clues about this program’s vision for our future under the New World Order, frankly.

Update: 4th-graders brainwashed with Occupy ‘propaganda’

A Connecticut dad has accused an industry giant in education, Scholastic, of delivering Occupy Wall Street propaganda to his 4th grade daughter in her school classroom.

The company’s response?

Also, Teacher uses classroom to feed students left-wing propaganda [PDF]

Readers may also be interested in the book, Indoctrination: How ‘Useful Idiots’ are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism

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