Connecting circulations: migrants, migration money and translocal household economies in Nicaragua
Nanneke Winters (University of Antwerp)
Paper short abstract:
This paper further unravels and develops the social and contextual dimensions of migration money by anchoring this money in translocal household economies. Based on Nicaraguan financial diaries, it connects the cross-border circulation of migrants with the circulation of migration money ‘at home’.
Paper long abstract:
The funding, remittances and investments that constitute migration money involve asymmetrical relations of gender, class and other identity markers that characterize specific localities. A growing recognition of such social and contextual dimensions of migration money has improved our understanding of the diverse shapes this money may take. However, there is a need to further unravel and develop these social and contextual dimensions by considering migration money not as separate cash flows, but as part and parcel of translocal household economies. This paper aims to further anchor and understand migration money by integrating two types of translocal household circulation. First, the cross-border circulation of migrants, which both require and provide household money. And second, the circulation (and transformation) of migration money 'at home', as part of wider constellations of household financial practices. Based on ethnographic research in Nicaragua, these two circulations and their interconnections were explored by so-called financial diaries. These yearlong diaries quantitatively and qualitatively tracked households' (cross-border) practices of income generating, spending, lending and saving. They recorded both the monetary details of financial practices as well as the social and locally appropriate considerations behind them. This long-term and detailed empirical approach enabled an in-depth view of migration money in a context of income scarcity and volatility, and of the ways migration money shapes the experiences of migrants. In turn, financial diaries showed how these migrants reconfigure household financial practices based on and beyond migration money, thereby further anchoring this money in the field of stratified translocal household economies.
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