Transnationalism and literacy: Investigating the mobility of people, languages, texts, and practices in contexts of migration

Wan Shun Eva Lam, Doris Warriner, David Poveda, Norma Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


This review of research offers a synthesis and analysis of research studies that address issues of language and literacy practices and learning in transnational contexts of migration. We consider how theoretical concepts from transnational migration studies, including particular Boudieusian-inspired concepts such as transnational social field, capital, and habitus, as well as sociolinguistic studies of language and transnational space, might inform and extend the field of literacy research. We mobilize these concepts in relation to each other as interpretive frames for discussing an emerging body of empirical studies that address various aspects of language and literacy practices as they are intertwined with issues of cross-border relations and mobility. Studies reviewed examine practices in families and communities, practices among youth and within educational settings, and practices with transnational media (broadcast and digital communications). We argue that as a whole these studies show the important role of language and literacy practices in constructing and maintaining social relations across borders, and in how migrants navigate and position themselves in various social fields within and across national boundaries. We consider the intergenerational process in the family in mediating participation in these social practices, how language ideologies at multiple scale levels influence family and youth practices, and the variable ways in which institutional structures of schooling position the transnational affiliations and linguistic resources of migrant students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-215
Number of pages25
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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