In this introduction to the special issue we argue that a reconsideration of the notion of 'migrancy' can add greater emphasis to a particular methodological terrain within the burgeoning literature on transnationalism. The legacy of anthropological work on migrancy in southern Africa and the more recent use of the term as a trope in the 'postmodern' world by academics in cultural studies raise three intertwined features of a migrancy perspective that we feel should be central to interpreting contemporary transnational practices. First, we suggest that migrancy privileges movement and, as such, that greater attention be paid to the interconnection between movement in both space and time in transnational practices. Second, a focus on migrancy requires that we decentric the nation and consider the agency of migrants. Third, migrancy forces us to consider power inequalities, both those articulated through Pie state, and more subtle forms, such as the unequal power of discourses or knowledges in the confrontation of difference and the construction of otherness. Each of the articles in this special issue seeks to track transnational practices with these considerations in time.