Accepted paper:

Money, not blood: remittances as a substance of relatedness in transnational households in Nepal

Authors:

Ina Zharkevich (Oxford University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on research in transnational households in rural Nepal, this paper explores how kinship is reconstituted in the situation of transnational mobility and seeks to reconceptualise remittances as a ‘substance of relatedness’ central for maintaining and reconstituting kinship ties across time and space.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on research in transnational households in rural Nepal, this paper explores how kinship is reconstituted in the situation of transnational mobility and what role material flows play in sustaining/disrupting kinship ties. Nepal is the third biggest receiver of remittances in the world (as a share of GDP) and, arguably, it also has one of the highest rates of absentee nationals in the world: in 2010, every fifth Nepali was absent from a household. However, despite moving across borders and not seeing their families for years on end, Nepali migrants - who often move to take up precarious jobs in the Gulf states - remain embedded in the kinship networks and rural localities which they physically leave behind but with which they maintain relationships through a whole set of new kinship practices. By examining material flows resulting from migration - remittances, goods, and gifts sent by migrants - and their redistribution within households, this paper seeks to reconceptualise remittances as a 'substance of relatedness' central for maintaining and reconstituting ties in transnational households in Nepal. What can the direction in which remittances flow - towards elders or children, parents or spouses - tell us about the type of kinship relations which are prioritized over others? What can the conflicts arising from redistribution of remittances tell us about the tensions in the kinship system? By following remittances, this paper illuminates the ways in which money and the practice of remitting become a substance and a practice through which kinship is 'produced' across time and space.

panel P102
The power of mobile materialities: human movement, objects and the worlds they create [ANTHROMOB]