chapter  1
Introduction: transnationalism as a challenge to the nation K AT I E WILLIS , BREN DA S . A . YEOH
Pages 15

While it seems clear that notions of the ‘national’ are inherent in the concept of ‘transnational’, much early work on the processes of ‘transnationalism’, particularly in the field of cultural studies, dwelt on the ‘death of the nation’ (see, for example, Bhahba 1994). While this has been tempered somewhat with talk of ‘crisis’ rather than ‘death’, there is still widespread acceptance that transnationalism is a challenge to the continued existence of the ‘nation’, or more often, the ‘nation-state’. Arjun Appadurai, one of the key commentators on contemporary cultural processes, claims that ‘states throughout the world are under siege’ (1990: 305) and ‘I am … inclined to see globalization as a definite marker of a new crisis for the sovereignty of nation-states’ (2000: 4). Similar arguments regarding the role of the nation-state and challenges to state sovereignty are also propounded by authors such as Hirst and Thompson (1996), Sassen (1996), Castells (1997) and Tambini (2001). These challenges are, it is argued, coming ‘from above’ in the form of global governance organizations (for example, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization) and supranational institutions such as the European Union (Soysal 1994), as well as transnational corporations. ‘From below’, migrant networks and cross-border forms of political activism are regarded as usurping the power of the nationstate, as possibilities of transnational activities open up new spaces of resistance (Smith and Guarnizo 1998).