Webinar with Tahseen Shams, University of Toronto
Speaker Bio: Tahseen Shams is Assistant Professor of Sociology and author of Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World (Stanford University Press). Her research explores how transnational, global forms of inequality intersect with race and ethnicity to affect immigrant groups, particularly those coming from Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Canada.
Abstract: Challenging the commonly held perception that immigrants' lives are shaped exclusively by their sending and receiving countries, Here, There, and Elsewhere breaks new ground by showing how immigrants are vectors of globalization who both produce and experience the interconnectedness of societies—not only the societies of origin and destination, but also, the societies in places beyond. Tahseen Shams posits a new concept for thinking about these places that are neither the immigrants' homeland nor hostland—the "elsewhere." Drawing on rich ethnographic data, interviews, and analysis of the social media activities of South Asian Muslim Americans, Shams uncovers how different dimensions of the immigrants' ethnic and religious identities connect them to different elsewheres in places as far-ranging as the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Yet not all places in the world are elsewheres. How a faraway foreign land becomes salient to the immigrant's sense of self depends on an interplay of global hierarchies, homeland politics, and hostland dynamics. Referencing today's 24-hour news cycle and the ways that social media connects diverse places and peoples at the touch of a screen, Shams traces how the homeland, hostland, and elsewhere combine to affect the ways in which immigrants and their descendants understand themselves and are understood by others.