ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Contextualising Transnationalism

Local Embedment and Global Engagement amongst Gujarati Indians in Cape Town

Scholars following the transnational turn in migration studies have stressed the way in which connections that migrants maintain across nation state boundaries affect their daily lives and subjectivities in the place of settlement. By doing so, the influence of the local context on transnational ties is sometimes overlooked. Based on five months of fieldwork amongst the Gujarati Hindu community of Cape Town, the cases presented in this paper show that local particularities inherently affect global processes. It suggests a reconceptualisation of transnational connections that emphasises the influence of the local and historical context of migration and argues that the regionalised migration trajectories and the manifestation of the history of apartheid in the local context have significantly affected the way in which transnational ties with India are maintained by this community.

During the final stages of writing of this article my co-author Mario Rutten sadly passed away. This article is for you, Mario. Thank you for everything.

An earlier version was presented at the Gujarati Research Network Conference, held on 11 September 2014 at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

Many thanks to Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, Carol Upadhya, Sanderien Verstappen, and the anonymous reviewer for insightful and valuable comments on different versions of this paper.

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