A big buzz concept in globalization studies is the idea that the labor migrations associated with contemporary globalization have created “transnational communities” and identities. Migrants don’t give up their home identities, but keep up contacts with the home country through telephone, email, tapes, what have you. And of course, they send back money. The exchange of emotional and material capital between home and away changes home too. Both ends of the migration are transformed into a new, transnational community.
Last week on our way back from a conference in Madison we got off the interstate in LaSalle, Illinois, where I took this photo of the Slovenian Catholic Church–vintage early 20th century. I’ve seen plenty of church facades like this one in Chicago. But it was remarkable to see this and about 10 other churches–mostly Catholic–in this small coal mining town on the Illinois River. It is a marker of how the global migration of the 19th and early 20th century reached even into the small town midwest. My friend Caroline Merithew wrote her dissertation on these towns and their immigrant communities. Where’s the book, Caroline!