Contemporary migrants can easily maintain transnational ties and form a transnational civil society due to ICT and other factors. This redraws the imaginary boundaries and trajectory of non-Western civil societies. We explore the transnational dynamics of non-Western civil societies.
This panel clarifies the transnational dynamics of non-Western civil societies caused by migration. Originally, "civil society" meant the institutions of modern associational life, which emerged as a new sphere between private life and public authority during the eighteenth century in Western societies (J. Goody). In the context of non-Western cultures, civil society has functioned as a normative concept for modernizing or democratizing them, or as an analytical category for describing the vernacular institutions or cultural practices considered equivalent to Western ones. Currently, the development of information and communications technology, the decline in airfare, and the growing tolerance of dual citizenship/nationality have made it easier for migrants to form and maintain various transnational ties, as well as a transnational civil society. More and more, migrants work as mediators who facilitate cultural and financial in/outflow or transmit sociopolitical interventions across national boundaries. Cultural in/outflow caused by migration has redefined the ideal civil society in origin/resident countries. Migrants' transnational civil society provides a common platform for them to discuss politics in their origin/resident countries and subsequently plan actions there. Migrants' investments and donations underpin the economic development and institutions of civil society in their origin/resident countries. On the other hand, the externality and ambiguity of migrants' positionality provoke arguments on the definition of citizenship in their origin/resident countries and expose an exclusive aspect of civil society. Whether civil society is a normative concept or an analytical category, contemporary migration redraws the imaginary boundaries and trajectory of civil society's vicissitudes in non-Western societies.