Notes from the UMass Transnational Literacies Symposium, July 2013

Our assumptions seem to be that we can do this work at all

–there’s a productive end goal

–transnational is a sub-speciality to literacy studies

–still pointed to our central concepts


Our questions are after how transnationalism is different from other phenomena

–how what goes in one place affects another places

–the kinds of insights a transnational lens provides


Out struggles seem to be modes of analysis

–describing object of study, methodology, lens

–how we position ourselves within and across disciplines


Our current moment is changing technologies

–mass migration

–nation state power diminished to corporate power

–individual literacies: movement



TimeSpace scales: draw attention to how events, moments, movements in which scale shifts are strategic maneuvers for power.


(Collins, Slembrouck, and Bayhnam, 2009)


GIS Geographical Informational Systems HOMELAND SECRUITY WEBSITE, look at data for projects


American Community Survey: find website



transnational literacies: big data (quantitative) little data (qualitative);

Global Englishes in the transnational frame, how the global Englishes impinge on nation states, including those that have English-speaking majorities, such as former British colonies.


The Macro to the Micro: the time-space compression of technology, instant communication.


Transnational literacy practices, institutions which sponsor certain practices and the ramifications this has on the micro scale


Bottom-up literacies: “folksonomy”; tactics of user-driven learning, as in immigrants seeking out homework mentoring, or students learning grammar structures of English and practicing with their Twitter/Facebook feeds


Vertical and horizontal frames: top down or side-to-side

What goes on in one place flows to others, emanating from certain sources of power


NEED TO DO: look more at transnational flows of writing, using geography to track movements of people, languages, texts, practices (exchanges or remittances? “paper trails” credentials, etc.); literacies compelled in response to state control of migrations.


Transnational literacies: taking into account historical narratives of movement, directionalities, positions, social fields, or networks.


Free-write: Sitting here typing and thinking about what to write about transnational literacies and the experiences I’ve had networking with folks at this writing workshop. It’s been helpful for me to learn about all the work this “trans” group has come together to share, and where my work fits. I see my work as transnational in the sense that I study immigrant communities who maintain connections with family abroad, but overall my study at MANOS focused on how one immigrant community set up a “safe space”: how this underserved group existing in the shadows become cultural citizens. The issue is not so much going back and forth since legal status does not permit. Rather, the transnationalism or the homeland always dwells in the current context, either through connections to family there, or in forming emotional connections with folks from the same region, or from simply the remembering or nostalgia for the home. What’s interesting is that for some going home will never be an option, and for others home is not the place they ever want to return to, and they don’t conceive of themselves as transnationals.