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An Impossible Living in a Transborder World

culture, confianza, and economy of Mexican-origin populations

By Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez

Publication Year: 2010

They are known as cundinas or tandas in Mexico, and for many people these local savings-and-loan operations play an indispensable role in the struggle to succeed in today's transborder economy. With this extensively researched book, Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez updates and expands upon his major 1983 study of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), incorporating new data that reflect the explosion of Mexican-origin populations in the United States. Much more than a study of one economic phenomenon though, the book examines the way in which these practices are part of greater transnational economies and how these populations engage in--and suffer through--the twenty-first century global economy.

Central to the ROSCA is the cultural concept of mutual trust, or confianza. This is the cultural glue that holds the reciprocal relationship together. As Vélez-Ibáñez explains, confianza "shapes the expectations for relationships within broad networks of interpersonal links, in which intimacies, favors, goods, services, emotion, power, or information are exchanged." In a border region where migration, class movement, economic changes, and institutional inaccessibility produce a great deal of uncertainty, Mexican-origin populations rely on confianza and ROSCAs to maintain a sense of security in daily life. How do transborder people adapt these common practices to meet the demands of a global economy? That is precisely what Vélez-Ibáñez investigates.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

I conducted my original research on rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) in 1978 and 1979, and I have continued my work on this topic from 1980 to the present. The most recent research concentrated on the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Baja California and on the U.S. states of Arizona, California (both northern and southern), New Mexico, and ...

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pp. 1-8

At first light, this book may seem to be merely about some economic practices shared by mostly Mexican-origin populations on both sides of the border. However, it is much more about the manner in which these populations are part of greater economies and polities and how such populations manage to use their social and cultural capital to engage ...

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1. The Transborder and Transnational Dimensions of Culture and Political Economy

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pp. 9-43

Although a tiny but significant comment hidden in a footnote twenty-seven years ago declared that there were indications of the existence of “transnational commuter rotating credit associations” (Vélez-Ibáñez 1983, 26, table 1.1, n. 4), I failed to develop this in my thinking or focus on it in either in an empirical or cognitive sense. When I use the word ...

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2. Confianza: Building Block of Social Exchange and the Operational Cycles of ROSCAs

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pp. 44-86

Rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) cannot operate without confianza (mutual trust), and this mutual trust has to be understood as truly a transborder construct operating since Mexican-origin populations have lived in the Southwest North American Region and in the Americas. Confianza has certainly been present and been a crucial...

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3. Social and Cultural Dimensions and Dynamics of Their Class Contexts

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pp. 87-119

The seriousness with which rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) are regarded among many social sectors can be simply illustrated by the following ledger of payments due immediate attention. The expense ledger belonged to an individual in Chapala, a lakeside town an ...

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4. Living at a Slant in the Midst of Megascripts in the Transborder Southwest North American Region: Dos mujeres sin fin

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pp. 120-154

There can be no doubt that the spread of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) are the local and transborder expression of much larger economic, demographic, social, material, and political processes in the transborder region and the Southwest North American Region, as I postulated in chapter 1. However, a number of important dynamic eco- ...

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5. Crossing Divisions and Social Borders: ROSCAs as Transborder Practices and Their Functions

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pp. 155-181

This work so far has focused on broad theoretical assumptions that provide insights into how rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) have emerged as important practices among many Mexican-origin populations. It has shown that ROSCAs are highly movable and cross the political borders of the Southwest North American Region. It has also ...

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6. Conclusions

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pp. 182-186

From a transborder and transnational perspective, previous chapters have discussed the widespread use of rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs) by Mexican-origin populations. As I have indicated, this practice has expanded throughout many social sectors in the United States and Mexico. Its distribution across classes, occupations, and resi- ...

Appendix A: Foreword to Bonds of Mutual Trust (V

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pp. 187-188

Appendix B: FYGO

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pp. 189-190

Appendix C: Six-Person, Thirty-Week Tanda

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pp. 191-192

Appendix D: Contract of Agreement

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pp. 193-196


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pp. 197-212


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pp. 213-216


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pp. 217-234


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pp. 235-241

E-ISBN-13: 9780816501083
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816526352

Publication Year: 2010