When we study transnational history, we so often look at different communities and cultures and the character and effects of their interactions. We look for the greater meaning and effect in these interactions and how they can inform our answers to some bigger, all important questions. I wonder if, that in doing this, we normalise and become de-sensitised to the real lives of these ‘transnational actors’ coming to only view them as characters who play a part in our studies and then are forgotten, no longer relevant to the ‘bigger picture’. However, surely much of the consequences of being a ‘transnational actor’ is that one’s view of the world has been affected by the interaction with another nation or culture, that this individual or group, comes through the event studied and is fundamentally influenced, perhaps changing their perceptions and thoughts on many aspects of their lives. Surely this is the lasting effect of being a ‘transnational actor’, and thus I am led to the question, what happens next?
There is an article, titled ‘‘It’s the best place for them’: normalising Roma segregation in Madrid’ by P Gay y Blasco. It details events that took place in 2005 that were the eventual result of ethnic segregation policies that became viewed in the public image as the normal, even obvious, outcome. One of my main take-aways from this was that the practices and policies put in place construct a public image of things that becomes difficult to contest, we normalise to these facts of life and lack the interest or motivation to question them because that the way it is, isn’t it? And yet the article specifically suggests that these normalisations in society should be questioned more importantly challenged. Yet ironically it does what so many scholars are guilty of, and once the point that the people have exemplified has been made, we hear little about what happened next. Are Roma children in Madrid still segregated in their schools? Do they still stay where society has told them? Are there people working against this? What came next? The article has made its point, but there are still questions, still real people, whose lives have been affected by this, but that is not the point of the article.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should follow up on all lives and interactions, for that would surely be impossible, and we must draw a line somewhere, otherwise it would never end and nothing would ever be published again. I think what I am trying to suggest is that there is always more to research and more effects of an event then we can likely comprehend. The effect that even talking to someone from another nation may have on a single individual could be untold, or it could mean nothing. I think what I am trying to suggest is that perhaps the long term effect on transnational actors and their ideas and judgements going forward could be just as significant as the immediate incident of interaction, and we, blessed as we are with the gift of hindsight should be looking not simply at the event or moment of interest, but the ongoing impact that this could have had. It seems worth asking the question at least? fffffffffffff