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Extended version of paper originally presented at:

Kulturstudier i Sverige nationell forskarkonferens ACSIS, Norrkping 1315 juni 2005


7. Transnationella

flt och



Western transnationalism in the Third World

Ingemar Grandin, Dept of Ethnic Studies, Linkpings universitet

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This sounds rather tempting, doesnt it? These quotes have been taken from the
homepage of EscapeArtist.com1. Picturing transnationalism as a fresh start, as an
escape to something better, this is the first of five cut-outs by means of which I intend to
introduce and circumscribe my subject. The second cut-out is from a World Bank (2003)
More than 63,000 donor-funded development projects are scattered across the world
[] According to the World Bank, the typical developing country is dealing with 30
different aid agencies across a wide range of social sectors. On average, each donor sends
at least five missions a year to oversee its projects [T]he recipient government can
find itself hosting three aid missions a week. In addition foreign aid is delivered by
multiple, high-cost "aid boutiques." A vast consultancy industry has sprung up around
aid delivery that is worth $4 billion a year in Africa alone.

Cut-out number three has been taken from the web publication where the WTO (World
Tourism Organization 2000) gives the definitions to be used when entering tourism, in
an internationally understandable way, into the national accounts. The upper time limit
of a tourist visit, and the many purposes tourism is seen to include, are worth noticing:
For statistical purposes, the term "international visitor" describes "any person who
travels to a country other than that in which s/he has his/her residence but outside
his/her usual environment for a period not exceeding 12 months and whose main

First quote from; second quote from Emphasis and multiple dots in the original.

purpose of visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the
country visited".
International visitors include:
(a) Tourists (overnight visitors): "visitors who stay at least one night in a collective
or private accommodation in the country visited";
(b) Same-day visitors: "visitors who do not spend the night in a collective or private
accommodation in the country visited".2
A classification of main purpose of visit (or trip) by major groups is recommended
below. This classification is designed to measure the key segments of tourism
1. Leisure, recreation and holidays
2. Visiting friends and relatives
3. Business and professional
4. Health treatment
5. Religion/pilgrimages
6. Other

Cut-out number four is from a quote pulled from Crocombe (1968: 76) by Erik Cohen
(1977: 5). Cohen used it as a vignette for his Expatriate Communities the most
ambitious attempt at a systematic, theoretical treatise of (Western) transnationalism to
have appeared so far:
Had people with such exotic customs, such irrational beliefs, such complex social
organizations, and such tremendous power, been of any other skin colour they would
have been studied in great depth and detail by anthropologists from all over the world.

And, finally, cut-out number five, which is from a scholarly study of Overseas Americans
(Cleveland, Mangone & Adams, 1960: v):
From Osaka to Accra, from Helsinki to Antofagasta, nearly one per cent of our citizens
live outside the United States. Some of the overseas Americans are government people
who are manning military bases, running embassies, and administering foreign aid. But
a third of them are other United States citizens, including wives and children, abroad for
a year of study and teaching or for a lifetime of expatriate living in the interests of
American business, missionary churches, or philantropic foundations.
Borne by tides of goodwill and dollars, the United States diplomat and technician,
the preacher and the professor, are working to militarize, proselytize, or to reorganize
the lives of their foreign cousins.

Though addressing different sorts of readers, and obviously written for different
purposes, the five quotes cut out and assembled above help point to the same thing:

Quotation marks in the original.

people who leave the West to go East or South. The paper I present here which is itself
copied and pasted from a longer text in progress starts out from the assumption that
the apparently different practices of tourism, development, academic fieldwork and
commercial ventures are in fact nothing but different trajectories within one integrated
field of practice, that of Western transnationalism in the Third World. The paper
includes three major sections. 1. I briefly consider the empirical affluence of this field in
one particular locality, the greater Kathmandu area in Nepal, drawing upon the
perceptual and analytical faculties of other observers as well as my own ones. 2. It seems
to be worth while to include a discussion of the terminological and conceptual problems
the study of this field involves. 3. I explore how overlapping transnational roles and
motivations contribute to the basic matrix for Western transnationalism, and survey
how the flows of Western people between localities in the West and in the Third World
create and sustain communities, links between communities, but also material facilities
and resources as well as more immaterial things (ideas, knowledge, imagery,

Aceh as we learned to know from the news-stories of the tsunami disaster of December,
2004 is the name of a province on northwestern Sumatra. When this name started
hitting the headlines, it seemed to refer to an entity previously unknown in the Western
view of the world. Yet were it not for its lack of black pepper, Aceh might well have been
more prominent in Western imagination. This was where, on its inaugural voyage, the
English East India Company first scouted for a factory that is, a permanent trading
establishment with resident merchants or factors in Asia. As Keay (1993: 1620)
chronicles, the companys fleet anchored off Aceh in June, 1602, and the English were
well received by the Sultan. After having been conveyed to the court on elephants,
treated with a banquet featuring arrack liquor, gamelan music, and dance
entertainment, and honoured with various cock-fights, tiger-fights and the like, the
companys men were in due time granted full trading rights and protection. And most
importantly, the company was offered a house in Aceh a house that might serve as the
sought-after local base where resident factors could do their trading.
But due to the shortage of black pepper (which turned out to be grown only quite far
away), Aceh was not deemed a favorable location after all. (To cover up for this
disappointment, Lancaster, the English commander, obtained the Sultans permission to
patrol the waters off Aceh, and was able to intercept and plunder a large Portuguese
ship.) Instead, the fleet went on to trade its goods (including what had been appropriated
from the Portuguese) and load a cargo of pepper in Bantam in Java and here, indeed,
the Company set up its first factory and installed its resident English factors who would
remain in Bantam to sell surplus goods and buy pepper and other local produce in
readiness for the next mission.

Of course, this was a not journey into the unknown. Even if the details of peppergrowing areas had escaped them, the English had embarked with clear ideas of why they
went East and of what to do there. Their Dutch rivals in the Vereenigde Oost-Indische
Compagnie (the VOC) had much the same ideas no doubt both hade learned from the
Portuguese, who had been prominently present in the Indian Ocean for a century at this

The Aceh-Bantam episode is something of a paradigm case of Western transnationalism
as it operated well before this trip and into the present day. We see here a cultural
matrix: how to perceive and make use of a field of opportunities.
Among people at home in the West (such as those investing the trading capital for
the EIC as well as those going out on the trip) there is a clear idea that opportunities
are offered overseas, though the exact nature of these opportunites might be less well
The way to exploit these opportunities for any single person is by means of a spell
abroad rather than by permanent settlement.
To enable this, however, permanent structures (such as a factory) for nonpermanent Western residence are sought and established.
With this, moreover, the option of going out becomes permanently inscribed in
Western culture.

At anchor off Aceh, the English fleet found itself in the company of sixteen or eighteen
sails of shippes of diverse nations (Lancaster, quoted in Keay 1993: 16) these were
crafts that belonged to people from Gujarat, Bengal and Calicut (all in present-day
India) as well as from Burma and Thailand. By no means Western people were alone to
try transnational business ventures in this region. As Reid (1994: 271) writes: Foreign
ships were always welcome, for they represented wealth and power. Every ruler wanted
to have them calling at his own port. Hence these rulers took care to treat visiting
merchants well: If they carried a message from their ruler [and indeed Lancaster could
present a letter from Queen Elizabeth to any foreign ruler they might encounter] they
were mounted on richly decorated elephant or galleys to ride in solemn procession to the
palace, where they were were entertained with feasting and dancing (Reid, p. 272). The
grand reception that the English were given in Aceh was only standard procedure. In a
region of enormous diversity, accustomed to having its ports crowded with people of
every kind, Europeans represented just another element. And at least initially,

Europeans visiting East Asia were seen as white Bengalis or some similar variety of
Indians (Reid, p. 271).
As can be gathered from Curtin (1984) and Chaudhuri (1985), the English company and
their Dutch contemporaries just like the Spaniards and Portuguese before them tied
into the existing Asian trade networks worked out by Gujaratis, Armenians, and many
others. Curtin (1984), following A. Cohen (1971), employs the notion of trade diaspora
to frame his comparative study of cross-cultural trade. A trade diaspora is an
interrelated net of (spatially dispersed but socially interdependent) commercial
communities forming a trade network (Curtin, p. 2) where merchants sought
successfully to establish themselves as autonomous, self-governing communities (p. 5).
At the extreme end were the European trading-post empires in Asia from the
sixteenth century through the eighteenth. They not only sought to have trade enclaces
under their own military control; the also tried to uses coercion to control Asian trade
and to shift the terms of trade in their favor. Toward the end of the eighteenth century,
they had used force so effectively that at least the British East India Company in India
and the Dutch East India Company on Java had stopped being militarized trade
diasporas and become true territorial empires that were to be the nucleus of the British
raj in India and the Netherlands East Indies (Curtin, p. 5)

With their heavily armed ships and long-range guns, the English and the Dutch were as
Curtin puts it extreme, but as trade diasporas they were far from exceptional. In terms
of religious affiliation, the Christian traders travelled in the footpaths and sea-lanes
developed by Jews, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Muslims before them.

According to Western evaluation, the whole world is our business. 3
Today like before, what business this can be takes on many shapes, and types of
opportunities seen overseas mirror this variety. Beside making money proper, such
business that Western people may have in the Third World include studying it (as an
anthropologist, for example), developing it (as an expert or a volunteer), describing it (as
a journalist, travel writer, or geologist), or experiencing it (as a tourist but indeed
also in any of these other businesses). The business Westerners have overseas also

As Cleveland, Mangone & Adams (1960: 3-4) put it: More than 100,000 American civilians work
with a United States organization overseas What these Americans do is obvious from the
scantiest survey of their daily lives: they are involving themselves in the internal affairs of other
nations. Nash (1970) is even more explicit in his study of one American expatriate community.
He opens with a chapter called An outpost of American imperialism and concludes with a
chapter on The overseas community and the imperialistic process.

include keeping peace or waging war (in, say, the UN forces or in the US Army), or
advising or cajoling/coercing governments (in the diplomatic service or the like). All
these are forms of Western transnationalism in the Third World.
There are, of course, good reasons to be critical of these things. Unfortunately (or
interestingly), critique such as Lindqvist (1996) or Hancock (1989) of Western
involvement in the Third World rests upon, and reinforces, the very idea that the whole
world is our business. And it may well motivate still other forms of Western
transnationalism in the Third World (such as travelling to various Third World
locations, staying in hotels and so on, in search of inspiration and facts for a critical
examination of Western transnational practices).
One cannot argue that the impacts of Western colonialism or imperialism have been
marginalized in Western scholarship. Yet the significance of Western transnationalism
post the colonial era has been given rather little attention. A case in point is Robin
Cohens (1997) work on global diasporas. Cohen concludes his chapter on labour and
imperial diasporas by saying that the British imperial diaspora is rapidly fading
(1997: 81) and that without the Empire, the loyalty and essence of this diaspora has
dissolved. End of story, as Cohen narrates it. Bearing in mind that the British foreign
aid administration was a direct continuation of the Colonial Office 4, and that under
various acronyms (Ministry of Overseas Development, reorganized as the Overseas
Development Administration, ODA, and then as Department for International
Development, DFID) it has continued to send British people to places throughout Third
World, Cohens assessment and his cutting the story short are rather amazing.

Back to the opportunities Western people see, and the businesses they develop for
themselves, in the Third World. In the Escape from America Magazine (maintained by the website quoted in the first cut-out above) American journalist
Robin Sparks has run a number of pieces on such places as Belize, Bali, and Kathmandu
where, essentially, she checks out what each place has to offer the Western expatriate.
In Kathmandu, Sparks (2002a) set up in an expatriate household in an expatriate
neighborhood to live like an expatriate. She primarlily related to long-staying
expatriates, but also mentions short-term expats people who typically spend two to
five years in each place they are posted. Among other acquaintances from the Upstairs
Club (the quintessential expat bar) and from various parties, picnics and the like,
Sparks mentions:
the owner of a bicycle touring company,


a yoga teacher who has a stately home, and whose food habits mixes Nepali, Indian
and Western cuisine,
an Australian who has imported cars, run an organic farm, restored antique
furniture, owned a resort, and now runs two restaurants and one touring and
trekking company,
someone who runs a wood-carving co-op with local masters,
an owner of a herb exporting company,
the owner of Chitwan hotel,
a designer of ethnic clothing on the base of local saris,
a social worker who makes a living by writing and doing consulting aimed at
abolishing the sex trade in Asia.

Beside this rather colorful crowd Sparks also ran into such expatriated people as a
photographer, a medical program officer, people into bodywork, yoga, or meditation, a
teacher of English at the British Council, a volunteer, a film producer, a businessman, a
doctor for the American Embassy, a Human Rights Consulate for the British Embassy, a
field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, and a BBC radio producer. In more
collective terms, Sparks talks about ex-hippies, trekking guides, students, retirees,
trust fund babies, and part-time expatriates.
The social life that Sparks hooked on to seems to have been highly marked by visits,
picnics, parties, clubs. Such arenas reappear, along with schools, shopping ventures, and
associations such as AWON (American Women of Nepal) in Heather Hindmans (2003)
detailed study of one sub-set of Western residents in Kathmandu: that of expatriate
women. Hindman delimits the category more precisely to cover only people explicitly
sent out by Western corporations or organizations, and who receive various benefits
(hardship allowances, schooling allowances for the children, etc) to compensate for being
posted abroad. This is expatriate in a more narrow sense than that employed by
Sparks. It is also, however, how the people Hindman worked with saw themselves and
drew the boundaries around their own community.
Various opportunities attracts Westerners to non-Western, Third World locations. 5
Beside the cheap labor typical of the Third World and a favorable cost of living
(according to Sparks one can live on as little as $500 a month in a palatial home with
servants), the Kathmandu area and Nepal in general offers among other things a
climate attractive to Westerners, rather manageable physical distances, what guidebooks, anthropologists, conservationists and the UNESCO alike see as spectacular
cultural heritage, and equally spectacular natural scenery. It is not strange that Sparks
was able to meet Western transnationalism in a large number of incarnations here. To
go through this again, now more systematically and comprehensively, the Westerners

Portions of the following paras have been borrowed from Grandin (2002).

present in Nepal during the last couple of decades can be sorted into the following
Tourism. Westerners come not only as tourists and backpackers, but also more
specifically as trekkers and mountaineers. Others work in the supply side of this
business: as hotel managers, tour (trekking, mountaineering) operators, restaurant
Development, diplomatic service, military. Nepal has a large influx of foreign aid money,
with its concomitant array of development workers: aid-related diplomatic personnel,
IDA and I/NGO administrators, advisers, expert professionals in short, the husbands
of the expatriate women Hindman (2003) studied. But there are also volunteers, peace
corps workers and the like, who lack the economic and other privileges to mark them as
expatriates in Hindmans sense. Moreover, development also includes consultants on
short visits. Outside development proper, there are diplomats (who do have expatriate
privileges). The US Department of Defense has some 9 military people with 5
dependents in Nepal6, and there is the Headquarters for British Gurkhas Nepal, which
is responsible for recruiting Gurkhas, manages serving soldier welfare and provides a
comprehensive support package for the ex-service community in Nepal. 7
Mission. In many respect similar to the development sector is the Christian mission. The
Catholics have focused especially upon elite education, operating several highly
respected schools and with some Jesuit Fathers actually obtaining Nepali citizenship.
The Protestants are organized into two big organizations (the UMN, or United Mission
to Nepal, and the INF, the International Nepal Fellowship) that operate several joint
ventures with the Nepali government, notably in the hydropower sector. The contingent
of missionaries de facto work as doctors, nurses, midwifes, engineers, information
officers, teachers, and with vocational training, technical education, adult literacy, and
rural development (among other things).
Services. The residential Western community includes its own service sector, with
teachers recruited from the homelands to various Western-oriented schools: the Lincoln
School (which has a faculty of 30, mostly American, professional educators and about 140
European and North American students), the French School, the British School, and
some schools run by the missions (the Kathmandu International Study Centre, the
Norwegian School). (The supply side of tourism, especially in food processing organic
products, certain meat processing caters to the residential community and can be seen
as services.)

Department of Defense (2004).

Quoted from accessed June 2005.

Academic research and education; other dealers in culture and information. There are
students both at Nepali universities and at foreign-operated one-year programmes such
as Sojourn Nepal and (I think) a Cornell University branch. There are guest professors
and academic field-workers. There are people at locally based research and policy
institutes such as ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain
Development). There are people working at the cultural missions: Centre Culturel
Franais and Goethe Institut (both recently closed), British Council, Russian Cultural
Center, American Library. There are travel-writers, journalists (foreign correspondents
on quick visits; free-lancers; people working for local publications), film-makers
(typically documentaries; but Bernardo Bertolucci with crew were among them for the
shooting of Little Buddha).
Religion. Mirroring religious conversion or at least interest in the opposite direction of
the missionaries, people come to Kathmandu to learn (about) (Tibetan) Buddhism, take
religious training, join in meditation retreats, or stay at a Tibetan monestary.
Beachcombers. This is Hindmans (2003) term for the long-staying people who have
developed their own niches. This is typically people in various business and
entrepreneur-oriented occupations: running workshops manufacturing Tibetan carpets,
wooden ties, clothes, and the like there are good examples among Sparkss
acquaintances as cited above.
And still others! Add to all this small, nearly invisible niches, such as helping people who
come to adopt a child through the bureaucratic paperwork, and it is clear that it is hard
to make the list complete.
In the greater Kathmandu area, Westerners are highly visible. Though there are
Western transnationals working and residing in various Nepali districts at regional
hospitals or hydropower construction sites, for instance they are concentrated to the
Kathmandu area. This includes people who nominally work with, say, integrated rural
development in some remote mountain district: the project office, as well as the
residence, will be in Kathmandu, and the remote area to be developed will be visited
only on field-trips. Development project offices and Landcruisers bearing the logo of a
development project seem to be everywhere.
Resident Westerners of various kinds are dispersed throughout the Kathmandu
Lalitpur area (typically inside the Ring road), but tend to prefer certain areas. Few live
in the old-town city centers where houses line up closely and space is at a premium.
They prefer a house with a garden (however small) or at least a flat in such a house. As
Hindman (2003) observes, this ties in well with the general pattern of colonial living.
Anglo-saxon expatriates of the sent-out, contracted variety studied by Hindman prefer
areas such as Lazimpath and Bhat Bhateni north of the Royal palace in Kathmandu,
whereas missionaries and Scandinavians typically live in such areas as Sanepa, Dhobi

Ghat and Jawalakhel in Lalitpur. As Hindman points out, any house where Westerners
live is likely to have Nepali neighbors on all sides: there is nothing like a gated
community or exclusively foreign area anywhere in greater Kathmandu. People
attracted to Nepal by (Tibetan) Buddhism typically live close to Bauddha, where
numerous Tibetan monasteries are located.
The short-term guests tourists and backpackers are concentrated to other areas.
There is the backpacker eldorado of Thamel, where shops for used books, trekking
provisions, sweets, traveler-type clothes, rucksacks, walking boots, and so on mix with
restaurants, coffee-shops, lodges, hotels, handicraft centers, cargo exporters, and moneychangers. And there is the upper-end tourist area on Durbar Marg south of the Royal
Palace, with jewelers shops, boutiques, expensive restaurants, and the top class hotels.
But naturally all sorts of tourists venture out of these areas for all sorts of activities
ranging from climbing Mount Everest to a stroll down to the heart of Kathmandu.
And equally naturally, tourists are not the only Western transnationals found in Thamel
or on Durbar Marg. It might be more appropriate to say that tourist is rather a role
that all Western transnationals, including posted expatriates, development volunteers,
missionaries and anthropologists, assume from time to time. And conversely again, the
tourists who see themselves as backpackers or travellers as well as posted
expatriates might very well work hard to escape the tourist role by, for instance, trying
to get backstage (in the sense developed by MacCannell 1976) in the host culture.
The tourist role, then, is one open to all Western transnationals. According to Hindman
(2003), the posted expatriates indeed make up a community, with shared orientations,
shared major events, and intense internal socializing. Though this hardly characterizes
the entire population of Western transnationals in Nepal, this whole group is woven
together in other ways. First, there are degrees of temporal continuity beyond the
individual visit. The same individuals may well have a career encompassing several
incarnations: the backpacker returns as a volunteer, the Peace Corps worker returns as
an anthropologist, the anthropologist returns as a social forester, and so on. Second,
there are overlapping practices that integrate the various kinds of transnationals. They
do the same things and partially transverse the internal boundaries. As already noted,
residents patron the same restaurants as tourists, assume tourist roles during their
residency, and take tourist trips during their vacations. An ethnographer may conduct
his fieldwork from the base of a hotel room in the tourist area, and get his food and drink
from tourist-oriented restaurants and shops. There are children of all ages among the
Western transnationals. Schools are one of the integrative features of transnational life,
as are childrens birthday parties and arranging for children playing together after
school. Transnational children grow up, of course, and this provides another sort of
integration to the transnational community. Not rarely, such children return to the
locality where they spent perhaps very formative years as tourists, as students, as
volunteers, as teachers, as field researchers. Moreover, Western transnationals


irrespective of incarnation share, co-maintain and help sustain resources connected with
transnational living. Schools, again, are an obvious example. But there is also transport,
food, accommodation, interpreters and translation, locally published English-language
newspapers, journals and books, packing-and-moving facilities, and the supply of certain
foodstuffs (say, imported Italian pasta, Danish preserves and Australian powder milk)
and other goods (furniture, home appliances, and so on).
People go back to their home countries. This doesnt mean that they stay there. People
often come back to Nepal for new visits. In certain lines of work maybe among
academics and journalists most typically, but also among, say, hydropower professionals
people develop a practice of commuting between their Western set-up and Nepal. Other
careers maybe most typically in development and the diplomatic service involve
another sort of transnationalism, characterized by say, first Sri Lanka, then Bangla
Desh, then Nepal; or FijiCopenhagenNepalCopenhagen and so on.
Why are they here? For tourists (including resident foreigners when assuming a tourist
role) Nepal may be essentially a experience/relaxation site; to backpackers, Kathmandu
is one big caf where to meet others like oneself, with not too much care about the caf as
such. But many Westerners come for a purpose bigger than their own outcome. They are
doers. They mission, they convert, they study, they have ideas of building hydropower
plants, conserving forests and valuable urban milieus, changing social roles (empowering
women, uplifting the poor, etc). Nepal, as part of the Third World, is their business.

As we have seen, what Hindman and the community she studied sees as expatriates
is only the sub-category of short-term expats in Sparkss more common-sense-oriented
journalistic terminology. It is rather those long-stayers seen by Hindman as
beachcombers that attracts Sparkss attention.8 In Cohen (1977), expatriate covers
everything between tourists (in a more commonsensical and restricted notion than that
of the WTO) and settlers.9 Cohen, moreover, specifies subsets of voluntary temporary
migrants who reside abroad for purposes of 1) business, 2) mission (diplomatic, aid,
military, church), 3) teaching, research and culture (academics and artists), and 4)
leisure. This is only the beginning of what might seem a conceptual nightmare. When
Pearce (1982) analyzes 15 different travel-related terms anthropologist, businessman,
conservationist, explorer, hippie, holidaymaker, international athlete, jet-setter,

Sparks shares her wider conception of expatriate with the website for which she writes.

On expatriates, see also the recent research by Amit (2001; Amit-Talai 1997, 1998) and by
Fechter (2001).


migrant, missionary, overseas journalist, overseas student, religious pilgrim, tourist, and
traveller he concludes that the concepts overlap and are, as he says, fuzzy.
Moreover, it is obvious that Cohens subsets of expatriates according to purposes overlap
with the WTOs subsets of tourists according to purposes: 1) leisure, recreation and
holidays , 2) visiting friends and relatives, 3) business and professional, 4) health
treatment, 5) religion/pilgrimages, and 6) other. The WTO manuals (WTO 2000; see first
section of this paper) are intended to bring out reliable and comparable tourism statistics
(while probably also serving a certain interest of the tourism industry to make the
sector as large as possible), and their definition of tourist is suited to these aims.
Tourism comprises the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside
their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and
other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the
place visited. The term "activity of persons" is used herein as the general meaning of the
word and refer to the pursuits of these individuals, who qualify as visitors. (WTO

As long as their period of foreign residence is within a year, and their source of
remuneration is from outside the host country people are tourists in the WTOs sense.
Visiting businessmen, development consultants, anthropological field-workers, and
overseas students typically live up to these criteria.
Harrison (2001: 23) argues that tourism is a crucial feature of a much wider process of
migration though tourism barely figures in any of the theoretical perspectives on
migration (p. 24). This is also the assessment of Williams & Hall (2000a, 2000b) in their
discussion of the relationships and overlaps between tourism and migration. Migration,
as Williams & Hall (2000b: 6) argue, is generally agreed to involve some permanence
yet there is no theoretically grounded definition of permance. Hence, they say, the
migration literature resorts to such terms as temporary migrants, seasonal workers and
nomads for particular forms of non-permanent migration. The idea that tourism is of a
temporary short term character, with the intention of returning home within a few days,
weeks or months (Williams & Hall 2000b: 6) is similarly problematic when it comes to
second homes, lifestyle migration, retirement migration, and multi-purpose trips where
holiday travel is used to learn about a future migration opportunity (Williams & Hall
2000a: 3).
In response to this, both Williams & Hall (2000a: 3) and Harrison (2001: 24) suggest that
tourism and migration mark out the opposite ends of a continuum of personal mobility.
This is how Harrison visualizes this continuum:


Source: adapted from Harrison (2001: 24), fig 2.1.

This continuum, one would surmise, takes length of stay and possibly number of
visits as organizing variables. But the figure in fact explicitly mentions only forms of
stretched-out tourism, whereas many categories of transnationals who clearly would fall
in on this continuum are absent. Among Sparkss (2002a, 2002b) many acquaintances,
the retirees and trust fund babies would fit well with Harrisons categories, but what
about all the others? Where are Hindmans (2003) posted expatriates and
beachcombers? Where are Cohens (1977) various types of expatriates?
While the idea as such is sound, the continuum thus seems in need of further
elaboration. Length of visit seems to be only one of several criteria. Among others,
intention of returning home versus taking up permanent residence (Williams & Hall
2001b: 6), the way ones economic subsistence (remuneration) is linked to home and
host milieus, and social and geographic orientation and attachment are among what
might be included to define a multidimensional conceptual field (rather than a simple
two-pole continuum). And in this conceptual field, tourism and migration would
perhaps occupy sort of opposite nodes.

Overlapping roles and motivations are part of the matrix that determines Western
transnationalism as one integrated field of practice.
Ways and means
A basic distinction is that used to delimitate tourism: the source of remuneration or
more explicitly, in what ways economic resources are raised during the spell abroad.
There are some clear-cut cases. 1) Transnationals working in development, in the
diplomatic service, in journalism, or in academia may earn their income from what they
do in the Third World location where they reside, but this income is paid out from an
employer in the West. 2) Conversely, those beachcombers that establish local
businesses do earn their living from within their place of transnational residence, as do
of course those who actually take a local job. 3) To tourists, retirees, trust fund babies


and the like, the spell abroad furnishes no income at all but must be financed from
private wealth or previous earnings.
But as Williams & Hall (2000b: 6) note, the source of remuneration criterion does not
always work even for tourism, since it does not address the phenomenon of migrant
tourist workers, who combine leisure, discovery and labour market participation, as
epitomized by young backpacker tourists. Moreover, this distinction is undermined also
in other ways. Think of, say, a Swedish writer who composes much of his text in a
Timbuktu hotel and whose travel and living expenses for this trip is carried by
previous earnings, whereas income from the Timbuktu book, earned on a number of
markets as the book gets published and translated, might sustain the writer at home or
go into further spells abroad. Or think of the new possibilities opened up by the Internet,
whereby an American psychologist can earn his living from conducting terapeutic
sessions from his computer in Kathmandu with clients somewhere in the United States.
In this mixed category, well also find freelancing journalists, writers of fiction, guidebooks, travel-reports. And moreover, people may set up in a Third World location to work
their way through, making use of whatever opportunities may come up. The individual
career or trajectory, finally, can go from one type of remuneration to another.
In significant ways, then, different ways and means should be seen as complementary.
Taken together, they present a wide smorgasbord of transnational opportunities. In
other terms, one might say that Western culture presents these as different ways that
all keep the option open to go East or South.
Roles and motives
What was said above about options can also be said about roles. Pearces (1982) study of
travel-related roles testifies to the existence, in Western imagination, of an inventory of
different roles in which to go overseas. What Pearce set out to investigate was along the
lines of empirical semantics, but with the method he used to ask [o]ne hundred
Australians for their perception of these roles (p.29) his study also illuminates
traveller roles in Western imagination.
Each role has its characteristic attributes. For instance, anthropologists, travellers,
holidaymakers, overseas students, tourists, overseas journalists, and explorers all are
thought to take photos; missionaries, religious pilgrims and anthropologists search for
the meaning of life; missionaries, anthropologists and explorers keenly observe the
society they visit; and migrants, tourists and overseas students have language problems.
As noted above, the roles are fuzzy and overlap. Pearce distills these overlapping
traveller roles into clusters of related roles where for instance travellers, overseas
students and overseas journalists do high contact travel that engages local people to a
considerable degree, whereas explorers, conservationsists, and anthropologists are seen


as represent adventurous and professional types of travel. Businessmen, holidaymakers

and tourists, on their hand, share a pleasure-oriented and exploitative traveller role. 10
In Pearces description of these role-clusters, motives for travel pleasure, adventure
have already appeared. Why do Western people leave their home countries to confront
culture shocks, various diseases, and other hassles in poor, underdeveloped
localities? Among reasons frequently put forth in the literature:
Escape. Get away from home, tedious routines and the like (see again the cut-out
from in the first section of this paper).
Bigfrogism. As Cleveland, Mangone & Adams (1960: 2224) elaborate, there are
many ways in which transnationalism can promote ones social and economic
standing, and ones access to Big and Important people and make one a big frog in a
small pond.
Hedonistic and ludic motives. One can think of adventure, curiosity, the Ss of
tourism research (sun, sea, sand, sights, sex; see Crick 1989).
Altruistic motives: to do something valuable, important, help people.
And finally all sorts of Western transnationalism can be motivated by the imperative
that MacCannell (1976) sees as fundamental to tourism: to seek authencity, that is,
exactly what is perceived to be lost in Western modernity (see also Harrison 2001b,
Bonnett 2000 ch 4).
As always with motives, what is said explicitly and what are the implicit, unstated,
real motives can always be debated. What is more important in the present context,
though, is the conflicting motivations that the people who travel and those who send
them out may have. That is, a firm, organization, or development agency may post
people in the Third World, or open up opportunities for people to go there, from certain
specific ideas of what to achieve through these transnationals. The people who actually
leave, however, may easily see these as just other additions to the smorgasbord of
transnational opportunities, and have their own aims with going abroad. This also
implies that what are means and what are ends may be contradictory:

Organizations, firms,



Send people out

To get certain work

governments etc

Take up an assignment, do

To go out

a job

Roles and motives can be combined in almost all conceivable ways and can certainly not
be mapped onto a typology of ways and means.


Malcolm Crick (1995) himself an anthropologist in the field of tourism studies has explored
in some detail the overlays between tourists and anthropological field-workers.


Various forms of Western transnationalism together maintain not only their own
communities in various Third World localities, but also links between these communities
and between communities and the West. Moreover, material facilities and resources as
well as more immaterial matters (ideas, knowledge, imagery, information) are things
that are not just there but are created, sustained, kept open by Western transnational
practices, by the flows of Western people between localities in the West and in the Third
World. Giddenss (e g, 1984) notion but not necessarily his entire theory! of
structuration can be helpful here as an economical way of referring to precisely that
these things communities, material facilities, ideas are recursively maintained.
Structuration of facilities and resources
The presence of Western transnationals of various kinds both presupposes and
results in a number of different facilities and resources that these people need, want,
demand, or just draw upon when they find them. Among such facilites are schools,
accommodation (hotels and housing that is to various degrees adapted to Western
preferences), travel and transport (airlines, airports, taxis, cars, drivers; tour operators;
packing and moving businesses), shops, restaurants and services (the supply of foods and
other goods, clothing, appliances, furniture), offices and office-related services (like
photocopying), maybe pools, clubs and the like. Also types of events can be included here
the annual conference of an organization, for instance. Of course, many of these
facilities are mutually demanded by Western transnationals and the local population
but here the entry of the Westerners into this equation possibly transforms the facilities.
Structuration of community
In a study of expatriates in the Cayman financial and tourist industries, Amit (2001:584)
observes that though the presence of expatriate contract workers is seen as a temporary
accommodation, the only thing that really is temporary here is the contract of an
individual expatriate. The presence of expatriates as a category is not temporary: it
has been structured into the Cayman economy, with among other things far-reaching
social and cultural consequences. Similarly, Hindman (2003) analyzes at some length
how the community of expatriate women maintains both permanence and stability in
spite of the constant turn-over of its members. The facilities and resources mentioned
above schools, clubs, events enter as important factors in the structuration of
Structuration of ideology, imagination, information
Transnational journalists (Hannerz 2004), travel writers such as Pico Iyer (e g 1989),
Paul Theroux or Bruce Chatwin (see further Holland & Huggan 1998), development
workers (see e g Mosse 2005), guide-book-writers, and academics together create,
transform, send forward, etc, knowledge, images, ideology as disseminated in various
media formats. Academics, developers, and people in the tourism trade, among others,


contribute to this production also orally, in seminars, lectures, workshops, and in this
they are joined by all sorts of Western transnationals in more informal settings.
Structuration of routes and communication
Individual trajectories, VFR tourism, those organizations etc that send out and post
people all this helps clearing pathways (for people and for information) and keeping
them open (or neglecting and closing them).
Structuration of roles, motives, and the (perceived) field of opportunities
Roles, motives, the ways and means of transnationalism, and indeed which options to go
East or South are part of the Western imagination all this is recursively maintained
and is linked to the structuration of facilities and resources, of community, of ideology
and information, and of routes and communication.

However temporary and brief the individual sojourns, there is nothing temporary in
Western transnationalism, in presence the of Westerners in the Third World. In other
words, Western communities are permanently present in a large many locations
throughout foreign parts of the world, and these communities that are interlinked and
linked with the homelands. Add to this that they share an inventory of roles and
motivations and a similarly shared identity with Europe and Euroderived geographical
attachments, modernity, and Christianity variously foregrounded and possibly most of
all centering upon whiteness (Bonnett 2000) and the question might arise if what we
have here isnt a variety of diaspora. Perhaps the story Robin Cohen (1997) cut short so
dismissively would be in need of continuation.

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