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Title: Contesting new 'development frontier' : the uneven financial incorporation of remittance flows and households in Senegal and Ghana
Author: Guermond, Vincent
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 8117
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
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This research engages with a global migration-development agenda that aims to leverage remittances for development by incorporating remittance flows and households into global financial circuits. Previous analyses of what I call the ‘remittances-financial inclusion nexus’ have proved vital in deconstructing the assumptions behind, and shedding light on, the negative impacts of initiatives that aim to construct and expand financial markets on the back of remittances. However, what is striking in most of this critical literature is the ways in which financialisation is treated as an explanation in and of itself, which fails to account for the efforts and controversies that lie behind such market-led development projects. Moreover, surprisingly little is said about the extent to which attempts to incorporate remittance flows into global finance may actually be possible, and how and why these may be accepted and/or resisted by members of remittance households in home countries. In response, this research develops a geographies of remittance marketisation analytical framework, which allows for an exploration of the grounded ways in which remittance markets are constructed, the extent to which remittance flows and households can be (re)configured and incorporated into global finance, and why such processes are always fragile, contested and in need of constant renegotiations. This thesis is based on 10 months of fieldwork undertaken in Dakar and Thiès (Senegal) and Accra and Tamale (Ghana), which generated 188 semi-structured and ethnographic interviews with institutional and private sector actors and remittance recipients, as well as in-field observations and document analysis. The research finds that the construction, stabilisation and expansion of remittance markets are not natural nor uncontested processes. Remittances do not have an inherent financial worth that can be easily unlocked and transformed into new development finance. Building markets that enable remittance money transfers to be tapped into by state and private sector actors requires extensive financial, material, technological, legal, and discursive constructions and, importantly, behavioural engineering. Furthermore, the thesis demonstrates that remittance and other related financial practices and behaviours cannot simply be ‘nudged’, even providing the right behavioral stimuli, information and incentives, but rather rest upon relational and collective, albeit sometimes unequal, decision-making processes between migrant(s), receiver(s), and main recipient(s), as well as other people situated down the ‘remittance distribution chain’. The extent to which remittances can be integrated into financial circuits and put to use in the manner advocated by proponents of the remittances-financial inclusion agenda is mediated by a wide range of factors, including the dynamics of everyday economic realities, gendered power dynamics and norms, inter-women hierarchies, kinship relations and household context. The research also shows that processes of financial subject formation constitute practical 4 accomplishments that are always contested, uncertain and in the making. It advances the understanding of members of remittance households as ‘reluctant’ and ‘dissenting’ subjects of remittance marketisation as well as subjects that ‘deny’ marketisation through discourses and acts of refusal. Overall, this thesis contributes a nuanced theoretical and empirical understanding of uneven geographies of financial incorporation in the Global South. This is significant for policy makers who propose and advance a remittances-financial inclusion agenda as it identifies the risks, contradictions and limits of such marketising projects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available