Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

February 2007


Published in City & Society 19:1 (2007), pp. 36–46. Copyright © 2007 the American Anthropological Association. Used by permission.


This response to Dr. Philip Martin’s work has three main dimensions: (1) explicating how an interdisciplinary dialogue can accomplish more than an intra-disciplinary one, (2) addressing the core policy choice Martin frames of planning, to have transnational migration more often create a virtuous circle than a vicious one, and (3) considering how the subfield of educational anthropology informs and/or complicates Martin’s 3 R’s of recruitment, remittance, and return. The first of these topics relates to the context for the generation of this paper: the interlocutor session organized by the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology (SUNTA) at the 2006 meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which was intended to enable an interdisciplinary dialogue. Both the second and third topics engage the content rather than the frame of Martin’s work.

In an interlocutor session, someone outside of the discipline of anthropology is invited to speak and then anthropologists respond. Ideally (and in this instance), those anthropologists bring a shared interest in urban, national, and/or transnational anthropology, but then bring different lenses to that more generally shared interest. This paper shares with the others in this volume an interest in transnational migration and the policy choices that this migration presents. However, it also reflects a more particular subfield of interest: that of educational anthropology. The comments here are further informed by a review of the sixteen session abstracts from the 2006 American Anthropological Association annual meeting that could be found using a keyword search for “transnationalism” and the 13 that were identified through a keyword search for “migration” (including four overlaps). The author also reviewed all of the abstracts from sessions sponsored by the Council on Anthropology and Education. By carrying out these three reviews, this author can more safely juxtapose Martin’s work with current interests in the anthropology of transnational migration and that of education.