Accepted paper:

Paying off the debt: Filipino transnational belonging and engagement in development projects

Author:

Helena Patzer (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I will discuss the ways in which Filipino immigrants build their transnational belonging in two countries, and uncover the practices that underlie it. I want to look at the material aspects of giving and the basis of reciprocity. My paper is based on my doctoral research of Filipino immigrants’ engagement in development projects at home.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will discuss the ways in which Filipino immigrants build their transnational belonging in two countries, and uncover the practices that underlie it. I want to look at the material aspects of giving and the basis of reciprocity - starting from the debt of gratitude towards one's parents and godparents, the will to help siblings and cousins, and the debt felt towards the home country. I also want to look at objects through which transnational belonging to the Philippines and the United States is built and through which it is embodied - objects which flow between the sending and receiving country, and those which are significant in the everyday experience of the immigrants, be they clothes, devotional objects, or photographs. My case is based on my doctoral research of Filipino immigrants' engagement in development projects at home through a non-governmental charity organization called "Gawad Kalinga". The giving achieves here the level of public giving, which goes over the privacy of family reciprocity, and builds the feeling of national belonging. The act of giving at the same time assures others of the success of the immigrant abroad, and is used for building one's status.

panel W103
Belonging embodied, reciprocity materialised: migrants' transnational practices