RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

RGS-IBG Logo

114 Mobilizing Value across Time and Space (2)
Convenor(s) Marta Bivand Erdal (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Chair(s) Marta Bivand Erdal (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Timetable Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Session abstract The intersecting spatial and temporal dimensions of human lives have intrigued several generations of geographers. In this session, we seek to develop a particular extension of spatio-temporal perspectives on lived experiences, namely the mobilization of value in time and space among individuals, families and groups. How do people shift value between the here-and-now and other times and places? What priorities or pressures underlie such shifts? And how is the value itself transformed? We suggest an open approach to ‘value’ as a shorthand term for various resources and capitals, acknowledging that shifting value could imply a transformation. We invite papers that engage with monetary shifts in time and space, such as donations, investments, debt, and remittances, as well as with spatio-temporal mobilization of other forms of resources, including intimacy, honour, esteem, well-being and religious capitals. Drawing inspiration from studies of the conversion of different forms of capitals, often foregrounding these transformations themselves, the focus of the proposed session is on the intersecting temporal and spatial dimensions of such shifts, as these are embedded in human lives. We welcome theoretically and empirically oriented papers thematically relevant to questions of mobilizing value across time and space.
Linked Sessions Mobilizing Value across Time and Space (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Returning value: the time-space geometries of migrant remittances and return mobilities
Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Marta Bivand Erdal (Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway)
Migrant remittances and return mobilities can both be understood as the mobilization of value across time and space. By taking this perspective, we wish to connect specific transnational practices to geography's broader theoretical interest in spatiotemporal configurations and processes. In this way we also explore intersections between remittances and return mobilities. We understand migrant remittances as the money transferred by migrants to people in their communities of origin. Return mobilities are migrants' physical movement back to these communities, with a range of different temporal frames. Both types of practice entail shifts and conversions of value, connecting the present to other times and places. In the case of remittances, financial value is shifted across space and (partially) converted to value in the form of social status, respect, power, honour, and religious esteem. When the literature on migration and transnationalism has addressed connections between remittances and return, it has often been with a view of remittances as a form of investment in reintegration. This perspective reflects the notion of spatioteporal mobilization of value, but perhaps in a reductionist and overly instrumental way. We focus on conceptual development but draw upon interview data from a large multinational research project.
Visualizing shifting values: mothering, migration, and stuff
Agata Lisiak (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany)
In an attempt to make sense of complex constellations of sharing material and emotional values that emerge through mothering and migration, I turn to visualization tools. In this paper, based on my fieldwork in Munich and Birmingham, I discuss how first drawing and then creating digital images yields new insights into how various seemingly mundane objects related to mothering establish palpable connections between people and places (Povrzanovic Frykman and Humbracht 2013). As Carling (2014) argues, seeing all transactions between migrants and their families and friends back home exclusively as remittances may be misleading as some would have taken place even if the sender and the recipient lived in the same country. In this paper, I will discuss the visualizations featured on the website I am currently developing and then move on to data analysis, focusing on the navigation of pressures and priorities related to mothering through the practices of giving and taking, buying and selling, borrowing and lending, as well as unwillingness to engage in any of the above. Visualizations, I propose, not only help us to look into how said transactions are framed (Goffman 1975; Miller 2010) by migrant mothers, but also reveal their multifarious patterns and scripts.
'Dollars are camels, shillings are goats' Money, social relations and digital networks in Nairobi's Little Mogadishu
Gianluca Iazzolino (University of Edinburgh, UK)
My paper focuses on the interplay of informal money transfer companies, rotating saving and credit associations (ROSCAS) and digital financial services in Nairobi's mostly Somali-inhabited estate of Eastleigh. Using ethnographic methods of data collection, it seeks to understand how the mobile money service Safaricom M-Pesa is integrated within the Somali repertoire of financial institutions, namely hawala money transfers and self-help groups known as ayuuto, and, in general, how it reshapes a complex financial landscape featuring also vendors of hard currency and gold sellers. It asks how people make sense of different means of payment and storages of value in the light of cultural notions of time, space and gender, and describes how Somali traders moving capitals across borders, refugees relying on international remittances and Kenyan Somali women living on small livelihoods juggle different temporalities through their financial practices. This paper suggests that the preservation of multiple financial options is crucial to avoid dependency traps in a highly volatile context. It also argues that the creative combination of heterogeneous socio-technical arrangements to move and convert different forms of capital into each other reflects strategies to constantly reproduce both symmetric and asymmetric relations.
The art of the pitch and the uses of difference in urban South Sudan
Léonie Newhouse (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany)
In South Sudan's capital, Juba, urban residents often deliberately seek to connect with strangers—people wholly other from them—with the idea that somehow, these kinds of connections will bear fruit. The exact kind of fruit is not specifically known, as reaching out to difference is also at the same time a recognition that the other has specific attributes and skills that one cannot fully imagine or comprehend in advance. Pitching oneself in this manner is a mode of address that seeks to identify what one might usefully be to others—it is a way of forging a relationality where the gaps are big and the moment presents itself. This is a generative act, where differentials in knowledge, cultural competencies, networks, credentials and capital can be converted into novel forms of value. It does not necessarily succeed only when the interlocutor is enlisted in the project at hand. As a dialogic engagement, a pitch succeeds when some new information is gained, a connection is cemented through the exchange of phone numbers, whatsap, facebook, such that the connection can be temporally extended beyond the present moment, such that one can be called upon at some future point for some purpose unforeseen as of yet.