Abstract Migration scholars have noted the recent growth of hometown associations (HTAs) in different parts of the world and have approached the topic within the nexus of migration, the increased flow of remittances and development. However, the question of the differential growth, spread and success of HTAs (even in the same national territory) is not addressed and/or remains under-theorized in migration scholarship. In this article I concentrate on how different genealogies, discourses and policies of migration in Europe and the USA gave rise to different trajectories of transnational migration scholarship, including the research on HTAs. Focusing on the blind spots created by these different paths of transnational migration research, I frame migrant HTAs in the context of the changing state-space relations of neo-liberal globalization. In this article I attempt to break the spatial indifference to state territory in migration research and to relate the dynamics of migrant formations to uneven spatial development, rescaling processes, the changing geographical organization of state intervention and the transformations welfare states go through in times of neo-liberal agendas. Finally, on the basis of a case study of a Turkish hometown association in Germany, I raise some questions about the narratives of power in transnational migration research.