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Return to Sender

Return to Sender: The Moral Economy of Peru’s Migrant Remittances

Karsten Paerregaard
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Return to Sender
    Book Description:

    Return to Senderis an anthropological account of how Peruvian emigrants raise and remit money and what that activity means for themselves and for their home communities. The book draws on first-hand ethnographic data from North and South America, Europe, and Japan to describe how Peruvians remit to relatives at home, collectively raise money to organize development projects in their regions of origin, and invest savings in business and other activities.Karsten Paerregaard challenges unqualified approval of remittances as beneficial resources of development for home communities and important income for home countries. He finds a more complex situation in which remittances can also create dependency and deprivation.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-96045-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 The Social Life of Remittances
    (pp. 1-34)

    This book is about money: big money, more money than you can count or than Bill Gates will ever make. It is what Donald Terry has called “the case of the missing billions” (2005): the remittances that international migrants send home every year. In 2013, the world’s 232 million migrants, representing a mere 3 percent of the total population, remitted $414 billion to developing countries, the second- largest capital flow in the world after private investment (World Bank 2013a).¹ Money, however, is not the research topic of this book or my reason for writing it. Although most migrants hope to...

  6. Chapter 2 Peru: Migration and Remittances
    (pp. 35-64)

    To understand the remittance practices of Peruvians requires that we know who the migrants are, where they migrate, why they migrate, and how they migrate. This chapter seeks answers to these questions by analyzing the available information on Peruvian migration and remittances. Until recently, such knowledge was scarce and relied on a variety of sources such as census data from the receiving countries, statistics provided by international organizations, surveys conducted by a few research projects in Peru, and sporadic head counts made by Peruvian embassies and consulates. Needless to say, figures on Peruvian migration are many, and they rarely converge....

  7. Chapter 3 Compromiso: The Family Commitment
    (pp. 65-110)

    The bulk of the remittances circulating in the contemporary world consist of money sent by migrants to close relatives in their countries of origin. Peruvian migrants often describe such remittances ascompromiso,a reference to the commitment they make to support their families while they are absent. The use of the termcompromisofor this commitment evokes the notion of migration as a family rather than a personal endeavor and suggests that migrants as individuals are committed to remitting their earnings to their relatives while neglecting their own needs. Migrants make suchcompromisosfor a variety of reasons: to pay...

  8. Chapter 4 Voluntad: The Community Commitment
    (pp. 111-152)

    In the previous chapter, I discussed the importance of the remittances that migrants send to their families in Peru. In this chapter, I follow the remittances that migrants send home to their communities, which are known as acts ofvoluntad.Many Peruvians are members of hometown associations, religious associations, or cultural institutions that provide services and make contributions to their villages of origin or donate money (or goods) to people in Peru who are in need. Sometimes migrants remit the money they raise in such collections individually, but mostly they pool it and either send it collectively or bring it...

  9. Chapter 5 Superación: The Personal Commitment
    (pp. 153-194)

    As demonstrated in the two previous chapters, many migrants send large amounts of money to their relatives during their first years abroad, and some continue to donate and sponsor activities in their home regions for the rest of their lives. However, migrants also spend their earnings in other ways, such as constructing new houses, investing in various economic activities, starting businesses, or saving for retirement. Moreover, to many Peruvians the purpose of migration is to satisfy personal aims rather than to support their close relatives or show their dedication to the communities they came from in Peru. In this chapter,...

  10. Chapter 6 After Remittances
    (pp. 195-208)

    For centuries, people have remitted money to relatives in other parts of the world. A century ago, the British aristocracy sent money to support their sons who were living in North America, Australia, and elsewhere. Today, millions of labor migrants remit their savings to families and communities in their home countries. To those unfamiliar with the concerns and exigencies of migrants, the meaning and implications of these money transfers have changed little. To some, remittances still carry an aura of mystery and desire (where did that money come from?), just as they provoke envy and disdain in others (what kind...

  11. References
    (pp. 209-220)
  12. Index
    (pp. 221-235)