[ Back ]


Balikbayan Boxes and Bank Accounts: An Anthropological Account of Exchange Networks between Switzerland and the Philippines

Author Clara KOLLER
Director of thesis Prof. Dr. Bettina Beer, Professor of Ethnology, University of Lucerne
Co-director of thesis Dr. Rahel Kunz, Senior Lecturer Institute of Political, Historical and International Studies and Centre of International History and Political Studies of Globalization, University of Lausanne
Summary of thesis

The last few decades have been of particular significance for migrants and the social networks ‘at home’ with which they identify. Migrants tend to stay connected to their home countries in many ways; a major aspect of these transnational ties are remittances that are mainly understood as unidirectional financial flows from migrants to their families in their home countries. Despite a large body of research, mainly in economics, little is known about the social practices of remitting and about the diverse strategies of coping with demands from loved ones ‘at home’. My project aims at bringing in an anthropological perspective that analyzes remittances as transnational social practices with material and non-material flows and counterflows involving people living in different nation-states. For multiple reasons, they establish, maintain, and engage in transnational social relations that involve multidirectional and diverse cross-border transactions. By following the money, goods, and social remittances in both directions, I explore the practices of remitting and take into account that counterflows play a central role as well. By answering the main research question: Which kinds of transactions are important in Philippine migrants' social relations?, I will contribute to our understanding of global social practices by the specific empirical case of remittances between Philippine migrants in Switzerland and their networks in the Philippines. Both countries are connected by a long history of close economic relations and a considerable amount of financial remittances. Moreover, Philippine migrants have shown themselves to be committed to remittances and to taking up new ways in which they can be dealt with. 14 months of fieldwork will be conducted in different locations in Switzerland and the Philippines using multi-sited ethnography. I will use ethnographic methods including participant observation, different forms of interviews, and genealogy.

Status beginning
Administrative delay for the defence