Monday, June 4, 2012

Modernity, Gender, and Informal Money Storage in the Philippines

Photo: Jae Estuar

We are pleased to announce our newest working paper, by Janet Arnado, "Hidden in a Coke Bottle: Modernity, Gender, and the Informal Storing of Money in Philippine Indigenous Communities":
In this paper I explore the relationship between modernity and gender
in a traditional society, using as a case the informal storing of
money among indigenous populations in the Philippines. I examine 1)
gender as the interface of tradition and modernity; 2) money as the
interface between tradition and modernity; and 3) money as the
interface between men and women. In particular, I look into the ways
modernity reshapes and reworks gender relations by looking at informal
money storage which provides evidence of rationality and individualism
that are characteristics of modernity; and also indications of
tradition such as the house as a site of storage, and relationships
and livestock as forms of money. In addition, this study examines
money storage as a social process whereby modernity and tradition are
inherently intertwined and gendered. Finally, I present gender as a
class and a site of bargaining observed in the ways men and women
store their money, where relations can be harmonious or antagonistic
inasmuch as men and women share or conceal money from each other to
protect their gendered interests in the family. 
This study contributes to the literature on the gendered interplay
between modernity and tradition. This exploration into the informal
money storage mechanisms of indigenous communities brings to the
surface two points. One, that their usage of monies in various forms
(livestock, webs of obligations, crops, and nationally issued
currencies) situates the in-betweeness of indigenous peoples in the
tradition-modernity continuum, and provides them with safety net when
economic and marital shocks occur. Two, risks associated with these
informal storing practices are defined and mitigated in gender and
cultural contexts, whereby women negotiate for discretion on the
allocation of household monies.