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Global Migration and Transnational Politics: Towards a New Policy Agenda

At the end of March 2009, the Center for Global Studies, George Mason University and the Migration Policy Institute are co-sponsoring an authors' conference as part of the the Global Migration & Transnational Politics project, founded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Contemporary patterns of global migration have provided openings for new actors and issues to become prominent and for novel forms of political action to gain importance. Across a broad range of issues—conflicts and civil wars, democratization processes, citizenship and voting practices—today's migrants and diaspora communities exercise direct influence over political outcomes and dynamics in their homelands and beyond. This workshop will explore the policy dimensions of the new transnational politics, seeking to identify patterns and trends across cases and lessons learned that might inform policymaking in areas such as peacemaking and political development.

In this era of globalization, there has been a rise in the mobility of people and an accompanying increase in transnational political activities. Transnational politics means that the most influential people involved in a particular issue often live on the other side of the world or move between locations. These actors are less likely to accept notions that those living outside a state are not members of communities rooted in a specific location and that residency should define the body politic. While politics has been delinked from territory with regard to processes and actors, this does not mean that transnational politics generally focuses on universal issues or global approaches to social justice. Rather, much of the new transnational politics is intensely focused on partisan politics, conflicts, and very specific, even parochial issues in the homeland. Politics remains fundamentally about local issues even while political processes are increasingly globalized.

Photo: Participants of the workshop held in March 2008.