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Migrant Assemblages: Building Postsocialist Households with Kyrgyz Remittances

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 87, Number 1, Winter 2014
pp. 183-215 | 10.1353/anq.2014.0006



More money now flows into developing countries from the remittances of labor migrants than from official foreign aid. To make use of these crucial inflows, migrants rely upon transnational livelihoods strategies to allocate remittances. Remittance practices support individual needs and communal reciprocities by engaging a site of inter-household collaboration. While recent theories of transnational migration situate households prominently within these practices, ethnographic research in Kyrgyzstan reveals that households do not make use of remittances on their own. Communal practices span households by employing relations of debt, reciprocity, and trust. This article seeks to bridge the development literature focused on transnational livelihoods with an anthropological attunement to the social reciprocity of remittances. The resulting assemblages require constant upkeep while exposing social obligations to distortion and normative change.