University of Sussex
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Material and social remittances in highland Ecuador

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posted on 2023-06-07, 16:21 authored by Diana Mata-Codesal
This thesis explores the material and non-material transfers from and to two rural settings in Andean Ecuador. Within the broad realm of the research on remittances, it explores in depth the type, nature, composition, uses, meanings, re-workings and negotiations of the transfers between migrant and non-migrant villagers. Two villages in the Ecuadorian highland provinces of Azuay and Loja are the main research locations. These two provinces receive high remittance transfers, albeit from different origins: remittances to Azuay mainly originate in the US, whereas remittances to Loja are very likely to come from Spain and Italy. Due to very different socio-cultural features and different forms of migrants’ integration in the two destination areas, these two highland Ecuadorian provinces provide an excellent comparative context to research material and social remittances. Fieldwork was carried out in migrants’ villages of origin as well as in their new places of residence. This multi-sited ethnography was supported by a mixed-method approach involving a questionnaire (to gather information about material remittances), interviews (to shed light on social remittances) and participant observation (to provide the broader context for comprehending nuances in the data). This research incorporates socio-demographic variables, such as gender, family structure and generation, in the analysis of material remittances. The relationship between remittance senders and receivers, that is usually overlooked, is regarded as a very important locus of power and negotiations. A refined typology of material remittances, taking into account remittance senders, receivers and non-receivers, is also provided. Finally, there is a microethnographic account of material remittances’ uses which problematizes over-simplistic pictures of remittance expenditure by embedding remittances into broader socio-cultural contexts. Surprisingly, given the large amount of academic work on remittances, there are still unexplored areas. Social remittances are one such area. By systematically researching social remittances, this thesis adds to the limited existing theoretical knowledge on social remittances, providing new information on their creation and content.


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  • Geography Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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