Accepted paper:

A Rocky Terrain: Affect and Morality in Long-Distance Communication


Ulla Berg (Rutgers University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic research with Peruvian migrants in the US and their family members in Peru this paper explores the social and affective consequences of long-distance communication.

Paper long abstract:

A major concern among most of the worlds labor migrants is to follow the welfare of family members, kin, friends, and paisanos back home. This paper examines diverse experiences with long-distance communication among Peruvian migrants in the US and their family members in Peru and provides a gendered perspective of the emotional terrain of transnationality. Most migrants have left dependent children, husbands, wives, boyfriends or girlfriends, and elderly parents in Peru and a good chunk of their everyday lives in the U.S. evolves around the desire and the social and moral obligation to maintain such relationships. They do so by using a variety of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Based on ethnographic fieldwork with migrants in Washington DC and their family members in Lima and the rural Andean community of Urcumarca, I argue that while ICTs enable the production and maintenance of long-distance affective ties, cross-border communication is far from always warm, fuzzy, and unconditional. The time and space constraints that structure migrants' everyday lives in the U.S. also shape their transnational communicative practices in very important ways making long-distance communication an emotional terrain fraught with uncertainties, unfulfilled expectations, enduring tensions, and silences.

panel MMM04
Mobile sentiments: transformations of affect amid transnational migration