International migrants’ cross-border political activities challenge singular notions of national citizenship and political belonging. Yet most sociological studies of migrants’ transnational political engagement are based on single national groups in the USA, and limit themselves to examining how assimilation and contexts of reception determine migrants’ propensity to engage with homeland politics—thereby under theorizing the influence of origin countries. This study moves beyond this approach by recognizing the multi-directionality of migration, and testing the applicability of existing theoretical approaches across two different origins and receiving contexts. We compare a sample of Colombian and Dominican migrants in Spain and Italy, analyzing how contexts in countries of origin, as well as migrants’ social networks across borders, interact with assimilation and contexts of reception to determine migrants’ political transnational engagement. Findings reveal migrants’ transnational political engagement in Spain and Italy appears to be a highly selective process dominated by a small minority of well-educated males from high social status in origin. Findings also suggest immigrant incorporation and transnational political engagement form a dialectical relationship operating at different scales that is simultaneously complementary and contradictory. Contextual conditions in origin countries explain observed much of variation in Colombian and Dominican migrants’ transnational political engagement.
Co-host editor with Anne Visser of a special issue on Migration and the Informal Economy of Population, Space and Place (2017).