This is a new field and the aim of the cluster is to develop and formalize it. Transnational processes can be economic, political, or cultural; they can operate at different levels and in a variety of institutional settings, such as countries, cities, neighborhoods, or systems of meaning. Their study can focus on a range of dimensions: among these are cross-border transactions and flows, the social and cultural constitution of such cross-border dynamics, their localization in specific institutional settings and places, the constitution of meanings and subjectivities in transnational contexts.
The cluster represents a concerted effort to introduce sociological variables and approaches in the study of processes that have so far been largely the concern of international economists and anthropologists. Such sociological research can follow several methodological strategies. For instance, studying the localizations of transnational processes in specific institutional settings (the state, the household) or places (cities, neighborhoods) allows us to use research techniques that presume a closed unit of analysis. Studying an actual transnational process might make use of network analysis. A third methodological strategy is ethnographic research (of both localizations of transnational processes and the features of cross-border networks, including systems of meaning).
The cluster will have five major foci: global cities, international migration, states, systems of meaning, and systems of circulation. Each of these fits in longstanding scholarly traditions in the Department. And each can make use of and benefit from many of the current research projects and faculty in the department. If a student's project on transnational processes does not fit under these five major topics, we will do everything to accommodate it.
The University of Chicago encourages students to move across disciplines in their choice of courses and advisors. Several faculty in the social sciences who are engaged in the study of transnational processes and its area centers and library resources on East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are among the strongest in this country. (http://ceas.uchicago.edu/, http://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/level3.asp?id=245,http://www.cmes.uchicago.edu/, http://clas.uchicago.edu/.) In other departments, relevant workshops include ones on Comparative Politics, International Political Economy, as well as several in anthropology.