Theorizing and Proving Intersectionality in Transnational Contexts

  • Caroline PlüssEmail author
  • Chan Kwok-bun
Part of the International Perspectives on Migration book series (IPMI, volume 2)


This introductory chapter of the book will develop the idea that migrant identifications are transnational constructs expressing and reflecting the migrants’ different experiences vis-à-vis the multiple discourses of inclusion and exclusion that create the intersecting social hierarchies that the migrants become embedded in when they attempt to access resources through migration. We forward a new approach to intersectionality analysis, linking such analysis to the migrants’ attempted conversions of cultural, social, and economic capital into each other—within and across national boundaries. This chapter then elaborates with the migrants identifications are a core indicator of their perceptions of the outcome of their attempts to access new and desired resources through converting their capital. We then substantiate that such an analytical framework is a new methodological and theoretical tool that is able to explain the fact that despite common their characteristics, groups of migrants can develop very different identifications in the transnational spaces they constructed through migrations. The implications of these findings are then outlined, both on the theoretical and practical/policy levels. Emphasis is on showing that it can be problematic to speak of migrants’ race, ethnicity, and culture.


Social Capital Cultural Capital Economic Capital Migrant Woman Revolving Door 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anthias, F. (2001a). Gender, ethnicity and social stratification: Rethinking inequalities. In H. Bradley & S. Fenton (Eds.), Ethnicity and economy: Race and class revisited (pp. 64–79). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Anthias, F. (2001b). New hybridities, old concepts: The limits of “culture”. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24(4), 619–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Public Culture, 2(2), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauder, H. (2008). Citizenship as capital: The distinction of migrant labor. Alternatives, 33(3), 315–333.Google Scholar
  5. Berger, P. L. (1963). Invitation to sociology. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  6. Berger, P. L. (2002). Introduction: The cultural dynamics of globalization. In P. L. Berger & S. P. Huntington (Eds.), Many globalizations: Cultural diversity in the contemporary world (pp. 1–16). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The three forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 214–258). New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brightman, R. (1995). Forget culture: Replacement, transcendence, reflexification. Cultural Anthropology, 10(4), 509–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brubaker, R., & Cooper, F. (2000). Beyond ‘identity’. Theory and Society, 29(1), 1–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Calhoun, C. (2008). Cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Nations and Nationalism, 14(3), 427–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Castles, S. (2004). Why migration policies fail. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27(2), 205–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chan, K.B. (1991). Smoke and fire: The Chinese in Montreal. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Chan, K. B. (1996). <<煙與火:蒙特利爾的華人>>.北京:北京大学出版社.Google Scholar
  15. Chan, K. B. (1997). A family affair: Migration, dispersal, and the emergent identity of the Chinese cosmopolitan. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 6(2), 195–214. Also in (2005). Migration, dispersal and the cosmopolitan. In K.B. Chan (Ed.), Chinese identities, ethnicity and cosmopolitanism (pp. 116–128). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Chan, K. B. (2002). Both sides now: Culture contact, hybridization, and cosmopolitanism. In S. Vertovec & R. Cohen (Eds.), Conceiving cosmopolitanism: Theory, context and practice (pp. 191–208). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Chan, K. B. (2005a). Chinese identities, ethnicity and cosmopolitanism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Chan, K. B. (2005b). Migration, ethnic relations and Chinese business. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Chan, K. B. (2008). Transnationalism and its personal and social consequences for Chinese ­transmigrants. World Futures, 64(3), 187–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chan, K. B. (2010). Hybridity [Special issue]. World Futures , 66(4).Google Scholar
  21. Chan, K. B. (2011). Hybridity: Promises and limits. Toronto: de sitter Publications.Google Scholar
  22. Chan, K. B. (2011b). Hybrid Hong Kong [Special issue]. Visual Anthropology, 24(1–2).Google Scholar
  23. Chan, K. B. & Chan, N. (2010). Introduction: Thinking freely, acting variously, or thought as a practice of freedom [Special issue: Hybridity], World Futures, 66(4), 163–91.Google Scholar
  24. Chan, K. B., & Chan, N. (2011). Introduction: Hybridity and the politics of desertion [Special issue: Hybrid Hong Kong]. Visual Anthropology, 24(1–2), 1–29.Google Scholar
  25. Chan, K. B., & Seet, C. S. (2003). Migrant family drama revisited: Mainland Chinese immigrants in Singapore. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 18(2), 171–200.Google Scholar
  26. Charney, M. W., Yeoh, B. S. A., & Tong, C. K. (Eds.). (2003). Chinese migrants aboard: Cultural, educational and social dimensions of the Chinese diaspora. Singapore: Singapore University Press and World Scientific Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Davis, K. (2008). Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful. Feminist Theory, 9(1), 67–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dill, B. T., & Zambrana, R. E. (Eds.). (2009). Emerging intersections: Race, class, and gender in theory, policy and practice. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ellenmeier, A. (2009). Kommission fur Frauen-und Geschlechterforschung der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Volkskunde. Accessed December 2009.Google Scholar
  30. Glick Schiller, N., Basch, L., & Szanton-Blanc, C. (1995). From immigrant to transmigrant: Theorizing transnational migration. Anthropological Quarterly, 68(1), 48–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  32. Hewison, K., & Young, K. (2006). Transnational migration and work in Asia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Hong, Y. Y., Morris, M. W., Chui, C. Y., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2000). Multicultural minds: A dynamic constructivist approach to culture and cognition. American Psychologist, 55(7), 709–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Huntington, S. P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  35. Kennedy, P., & Roudometof, V. (Eds.). (2002). Communities across borders: New immigrants and transnational cultures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Khagram, S., & Levitt, P. (2008). The transnational studies reader: Intersections and innovations. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Kloosterman, R., & Rath, J. (2001). Immigrant entrepreneurs in advanced economies: Mixed embeddedness further explored. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 27(2), 189–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Laing, R. D. (1970). Knots. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  39. Laing, R. D. (1971). The politics of the family. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  40. Lan, P. C. (2006). Global cinderellas: Migrant domestics and the newly rich employers in Taiwan. Durhan: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Levitt, P., & Glick Schiller, N. (2004). Conceptualizing simultaneity: A transnational social field perspective on society. International Migration Review, 38(3), 1002–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lorrente, B. P., Piper, N., Shen, H. H., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (Eds.). (2005). Asian migrations: Sojourning, displacement, homecoming and other travels. Singapore: Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  43. Merton, R. (1938). Social structure and anomie. American Sociological Review, 3(5), 672–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nederveen Pieterse, J. N. (2004). Globalization and culture: Global mélange. Lanham: Rowan and Littlefeld Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  45. Plüss, C. (2005). Constructing globalised ethnicity: Migrants from India in Hong Kong. International Sociology, 20(2), 201–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Plüss, C. (2011). Baghdadi Jews in Hong Kong: Converting cultural, social and capital among three transregional networks. Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs, 11(1), 82–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rai, R., & Reeves, P. (2009). The South Asian diaspora: Transnational networks and changing identities. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Robertson, R. (1997). Glocalization: Time-space homogeneity-heterogeneity. In M. Featherstone, S. Lash, & R. Robertson (Eds.), Global modernities (pp. 25–44). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  49. Stewart, C. (2006). Forget Homi! creolization, omogeneia, and the Greek diaspora. Diaspora, 15(1), 61–88.Google Scholar
  50. Yuval-Davis, N. (2006). Intersectionality and feminist politics. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3), 193–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yuval-Davis, N., Kannabrian, K., & Vieten, U. M. (Eds.). (2006). The situated politics of ­belonging. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Sociology, School of Humanities and Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Chan Institute of Social StudiesHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations