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Transnationalism and the Transformation of the "Other": Response to the Presidential Address

Ngai, Mae

Shelley Fisher Fishkin impresses upon us just how profoundly the transnational turn has transformed American studies. One of the most important (and refreshing) aspects of the transnational turn, in my view, is that it foregrounds human agency. At one level, that is because human movement and practices link--indeed, constitute--transnational spaces. At another level, a focus on the transnational, with its emphasis on multiple sites and exchange, can potentially transform the figure of the "other" from a representational construct to a social actor. Reorienting our own angle of vision to the transnational might, then, enable a shift from a methodology that emphasizes the production of hegemonic discourse to one that seeks to understand contact, translation, exchange, negotiation, conflict, and other dynamics that attend the constitution of social relationships across cultural and national borders.

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American Quarterly

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June 24, 2015
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