ABSTRACT

In Nancy Fraser’s book Scales of Justice (2009), she calls on us to recognise the importance of the map or the frame which situates our interpretations of what is right and wrong, permitted or not permitted. Her topic is the implications of the contemporary reality of transnationalism for gender justice, for theories of the public sphere, and for Foucauldian notions of Fordist governmentality. Fraser is concerned that thinking about all these matters has been grounded in frames of the nation-state that fail to comprehend globalisation. Recognising transnationalism requires recognising that its subjects are not merely the citizens of the bounded nation-state, she notes, so how then do we meet the challenges of this changing spatial frame for our social and political theories? My interest here is in Fraser’s acknowledgement of the frame. For emphasising the frame rarely happens as a central focus in considerations of transnational social relations, where discussion is almost always centred on the individuals and groups who are participants in transnational networks rather than the constraints or opportunities of the actual circumstances in which their realities are unfolding. In order to explore how social inclusion might be enhanced, a consideration of the frame, or relevant context, whether that context is national, international or local in scale, is a priority. My interest in the frame is geographic and material (concerned with the built form) whereas Fraser’s interest is in questions of political theory and the significance of the boundaries of political jurisdictions. But her focus on the frame ties in with the preoccupations of much geographic thinking concerning the importance of material context for the social inclusion of immigrants. That frame is a starting point of this discussion of the significance of the city for transnationals and their social inclusion, not the people or networks as if they were agents in a featureless space.