NAVIGATING THE TRANSNATIONAL TURN IN A DEEPLY UNEQUAL WORLD
The seeming pragmatism of people like Chin-su, this disjuncture between the subjective and objective identification, may be interpreted as the limited power of South Korea’s transborder nation-building strategy, which targeted the bureaucratic persona rather than the soul of the people. Or, more broadly, one might read it as a sign that the nation-state in general has become increasingly incapable of shaping loyalties and subjective identities in a globalizing world— an assessment captured by terms like “passport citizenship” (Harpaz 2013), “postnational citizenship” (Soysal 1994), or the “lightening of citizenship” (Joppke 2010). Chin-su’s intention to quote Brecht was similarly to emphasize the irrelevance of his nationality change to who he really was. And yet what should we make out of the fact that, under the current interstate system, individuals had better wear shoes, and if possible, wear better shoes? The increasing transborder flows of goods and people over the past decades have multiplied the occasions on which the state-granted official identity becomes the only acceptable currency for various transactions. In such a world, it is a critical liability to become illegible subjects (c.f. Scott 1998), “orphan[s] of infrastructure” (Star 2006), as is the case for those identified as Chōsen. Increasing global mobility has aggravated, rather than attenuated, the inconvenience, humiliation, and anxiety experienced by these “orphans”—those who cannot be neatly pigeonholed into the existing categorical system, or, to tweak Chin-su’s metaphor, those who are forced to travel with bare feet.
“Birthright Lottery” in a Transnational World
Findings like these make me pause at some of the sweeping claims in transnationalism scholarship, even as my book is indebted immensely to the so-called “transnational turn” in the fields of immigration, nationalism, and citizenship. Scholars focusing on the challenges that increasing immigration poses to affluent liberal democracies in the North have argued that nation-states’ monopolistic claim to the loyalty, belonging, and identity of their domestic populations has been considerably weakened by the rise of the postnational, multicultural, transnational, and cosmopolitan forms of membership and belonging. Those focusing on the thickening ties between developing countries in the South and their emigrant or diaspora populations in the North, for their part, have argued that globalization has produced “deterritorialized nation-states” (Basch, Schiller, and Blanc 1994), “long-distance nationalism” (Anderson 1998), and “diasporic public spheres” (Appadurai 1996), often suggesting a fundamental shift in the territoriality of the nation-state and nationalism. In a similar vein, anthropologist Aihwa Ong (1999, 2) has identified “the split between state-imposed identity and personal identity” as the key characteristic of “flexible citizenship”—that is, “the strategies and effects of mobile managers, technocrats, and professionals seeking to both circumvent and benefit from different nation-state regimes by selecting different sites for investments, work, and family relocation” (Ong 1999, 112). The accumulation of multiple passports within the family by means of investment and children’s overseas education constitutes the major strategy of flexible citizenship for wealthy members of Chinese diasporas, for whom these passports have as little bearing on their identity, yes, as their shoes…
Passport and visa practices provide the bureaucratic underpinnings of this enduring “national order of things” (Malkki 1995) and the profound inequality it entails. U.S. sociology, despite its long-lasting interest in inequality, however, has left these practices largely undertheorized. That the groundbreaking work on the modern passport was produced by a sociologist (Torpey 2000) and has had a huge impact on neighboring social science disciplines should make this relative stasis in our own discipline puzzling. “Methodological nationalism” (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2003) obscures the fact that citizenshipbased social closure (Brubaker 1992) remains the most powerful mechanism reproducing durable inequality on the global level (Korzeniewicz and Morgan 2012; Milanovic 2012; Faist 2016). Our inquiry into migration and inequality instead focuses on the mobility outcome of a select group of immigrants who managed to make the rare South–North migration, who are estimated to represent less than 1.5 per cent of the world population (International Organization for Migration 2013, 55). The U.S. centrism in sociology may matter in different ways as well. Claudio E. Benzecry (2014) once pointed out in this newsletter that what counts as central theoretical topics in British or continental sociology is rarely discussed in U.S. sociology. It is suggestive that some of the examples mentioned by Benzecry—e.g., actor-network theory, mobility regimes, and the role of materiality—have been central to the attempts to theorize passport and visa practices in Europe and elsewhere, both in sociology and neighboring disciplines. These scholars also often have turned to “governmentality” and “(neoliberal) biopolitics” for theoretical inspiration—the Foucauldian concepts that have not gained as much traction in U.S. sociology as “discipline.”
Visa Practices as Rites of Institution: A Bourdieusian Perspective
It was in this spirit that I attempted in my recent article (Kim 2018) to theorize visa practices as a neglected yet important locus of migration governance. I found Bourdieu’s insights into the state’s power of nomination, certification, and accreditation fruitful. These insights have spawned an important body of scholarship on official categorization and accreditation practices and their group-making and world-making power. But these studies tend to limit their analytic scope to the territorial ambit of the state. To be sure, Bourdieusian field theory has proved useful for exploring transnational and global processes surpassing the geographic scale of the nation-state (Buchholz 2016; Dezalay and Garth 1996; Fourcade 2006; Steinmetz 2008). But his theory of the state, compiled in the recently published lectures from 1990 to 1991 (Bourdieu 2014), does not address how the state’s symbolic power operates, or fails to operate, through its complex relations with noncitizens, other states, or supranational bodies.
I approach visa policies and their enactment by frontline gatekeepers as powerful “rites of institution” consecrating the noncitizens (allegedly) equipped with a certain profile of capital as deserving authorized passage. Applying Bourdieu’s theory to contemporary passport and visa systems enables me to highlight states’ varying ability to function as the central bank of symbolic credit, that is, their capacity to cause “a de facto situation . . . [to] undergo a genuine ontological promotion” (Bourdieu 1996, 376) by mere acts of official recording. For example, kinship and marriage relations documented in the Cameroonian civil status registries are unlikely to immediately produce desirable visa statuses for family reunification, because French consular agents “consider the Cameroonian State Registry to have little reliability” (Alpes and Spire 2014, 269). The Cameroonian state in this sense is like a bank that has been declared insolvent: its low “credit rating” (cf. Fourcade 2017) affects the valorization, conversion, and legitimization of migration-facilitating capital held by its citizens.
Thinking with Bourdieu also enables me to argue that visa policies in general, and the visa-waiver agreement in particular, turn citizenship in select states into migration-facilitating social capital. Visa-waiver agreements accord individuals recognized as citizens of select states collectivity-owned capital, a “‘credential’ which entitles them to credit” (Bourdieu 1986, 248–49). That is, membership in a state ranked high in the global visa regime entitles one to generalized trust—the benefit of the doubt, so to speak—from the gatekeeping immigration state, leading to exemption from its “remote control” measures (Zolberg 1999, 75). By contrast, individuals holding low-ranked passports are treated as likely candidates for unwanted migration until proven otherwise.
The passport of an unrecognized state may have even lower value than a passport from the lowest-ranked recognized state, bringing us back to the image of those forced to travel with bare feet. Anthropologist Navaro-Yashin’s (2007) analysis of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), whose passport can be used only for a trip to Turkey (the only state that recognizes the TRNC), provides a good example. Despite an official ban by the TRNC government, many Turkish-Cypriots have applied for passports from the Republic of Cyprus (the state from which the TRNC separated in 1974) for international travel and migration. Navaro-Yashin relies on actor-network theory to analyze the complex effect of what she calls the “make-believe” passport of the unrecognized TRNC state. But just as illuminating is Bourdieu’s (2014, 10; italics added) claim that “the state is a theological entity . . . that exists essentially because people believe that it exists.” Missing in Bourdieu’s formulation, however, is that it is not just peoples’ belief (like TRNC citizens) but also belief on the part of other states that enables the state to function as the “central bank of symbolic credit” and confer “effective social existence” (Bourdieu 1986, 252) on its citizenry.
This Bourdieusian perspective, if adequately buttressed by a transnational perspective, helps us avoid the perils of losing sight of the enduring significance of national identification in the contemporary world, characterized by containment, bordering, and involuntary immobility as profoundly as fluidity, flexibility, and mobility. It pushes us to move beyond the individualistic humancapital centered approach to migration and examine how the symbolic power of the migrant-sending state can determine the collective “creditability” of its citizens. Individuals lacking such collective credit are forced to resort to various kinds of “illegal” schemes— often more expensive as well as riskier—based on private credit. To paraphrase James Baldwin quoted at the beginning of this essay, it can be extremely expensive to be capital-poor—and credit-poor—in contemporary global mobility regimes. And just as Baldwin’s poor are subject to the moralization of their poverty and survival strategies, those who can afford only less dignified modalities of travel suffer from the stigmatizing insinuation (or outright accusation) of their innate criminality—an important dimension of symbolic violence to which the disadvantaged in global mobility regimes are routinely subjected. One needs look no further than the “migrant caravan.”
 The English translation is from The Tulane Drama Review, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Sep., 1961), pp. 108–10.
 James Baldwin.  1993. Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son, 56–71. New York: Vintage.
 South Korean passport holders, on the other hand, are allowed visa-free entry to 158 countries as of 2017, including the U.S. and the Schengen countries. See http:// www.passportindex.org/byRank.php (last retrieved on June 30, 2017).
 This does not seem to be how Brecht wanted his poem to be interpreted.
 Let me put aside for now, for the purpose of argumentation, a valid claim that shoes can have profound bearing on our identities.
 Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter. October 1, 2016–January 22, 2017. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
 This defection on paper has accelerated since the EU accession of the Republic of Cyprus in 2004 and the accompanying increase in the value of its citizenship as migration-facilitating capital.
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