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Assimilation and Transnationalism: Determinants of Transnational Political Action among Contemporary Migrants1

University of California, DavisPrinceton University

This article presents evidence of the scale, relative intensity, and social determinants of immigrants’ transnational political engagement. It demonstrates that a stable and significant transnational field of political action connecting immigrants with their polities of origin does indeed exist. The results help temper celebratory images of the extent and effects of transnational engagement provided by some scholars. The article shows that migrants’ habitual transnational political engagement is far from being as extensive, socially unbounded, “deterritorialized,” and liberatory as previously argued. Transnational political action, then, is regularly undertaken by a small minority, is socially bounded across national borders, occurs in quite specific territorial jurisdictions, and appears to reproduce preexisting power asymmetries. The potential of transnationalism for transforming such asymmetries within and across countries has yet to be determined.