The study of transnationalism: Pitfalls and promise of an emergent research field

Alejandro Portes, Luis E. Guarnizo, Patricia Landolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1491 Scopus citations


This introductory article defines the concept of transnationalism, provides a typology of this heterogeneous set of activities, and reviews some of the pitfalls in establishing and validating the topic as a novel research field. A set of guidelines to orient research in this field is presented and justified. Instances of immigrant political and economic transnationalism have existed in the past. We review some of the most prominent examples, but point to the distinct features that make the contemporary emergence of these activities across multiple national borders worthy of attention. The contents of this Special Issue and their bearing on the present understanding of this phenomenon and its practical implications are summarized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-237
Number of pages21
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Immigrant adaptation
  • National development
  • Social capital
  • Social networks
  • Technological development
  • Transnationalism (economic, political, and socio-cultural)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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