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Migrants and their money are not all the same: Migration, remittances and family morality in rural South India

Ester Gallo


The article analyses the relation between social remittances and migrant families through the perspective of migrant elites’ politics of identity in sending contexts. It argues for the importance of looking historically at how competing engagements with migration have led people to morally evaluate the suitability of remittances for kinship well-being. Migrant elites' conceptions of remittances are underpinned by a double meaning associated with ‘foreign money’, which is in turn highly influenced by local perceptions of different migrant destinations. On the one hand, money (as other goods) symbolizes loyalty towards the family and the community. On the other, money becomes the visible manifestation of distance between kin, and is locally judged insofar as it is not able to replace the lack of family care and affection. In the process, remittances emerge not only as a medium of family care, but also a social phenomenon through which the morality and possibility of kinship solidarity is questioned, if not invalidated.


migration; remittances; kinship; morality; Kerala

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