Accepted Paper:

Love, care, and money: the ambiguity of kinship as a support basis in unstable times  

Author:

Helena Patzer (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

In the paper I track the ways in which family members become sources of support in times of crisis, calamity, or social instability. Analyzing the case of underpriviledged Filipinos, I argue that relying on kinship relations becomes a common, yet ambiguous, strategy to attain a better life.

Paper long abstract:

In the proposed paper I track the ways in which family members become sources of support in times of crisis, calamity, or social instability. Analyzing the case of underpriviledged Filipinos, I argue that relying on kinship relations becomes a common, yet ambiguous, strategy to attain a better life. The other side of this assistance is the entanglement in a web of hard to escape reciprocal obligations.

The support received from kin enables migration, and thus social mobility: migrants not only pay the overseas employment agency fees, arrange employment or family-reunification schemes, but also become a source of information about life abroad. Having relatives abroad contributes to the betterment of one's social position: by sending in regular remittances, building a house, but also providing the necessary emergency resource basis. The ability to go through a crisis unscathed seems to be of most importance here, as it is the unplanned medical, repair, or other family expenses which have for a long-time been the source of instability.

Based on fragments of my ethnographic film about transnational family life, I discuss the relations between long-distance affection, care, and power. A close observation of the workings of such a family brings to the fore the intricate ways in which family-members maneuver their duties and obligations, taking them on and escaping from them, in a struggle to maintain their individual agency. This might also result in breaking some relationships and establishing new ones, which allow for more stability or freedom.

Panel P064
Mobility, precarity, and the activation of kinship and intimacy [ANTHROMOB]