Monday, June 13, 2016

Hearthholds of Mobile Money in Western Kenya

New Article in Economic Anthropology by Sibel Kusimba, Yang Yang, and Nitesh Chawla

Cleophas Family
This sociogram is centered around Alice, a 73-year-old grandmother, and her cowives, Suzzanah,Diana, Rachel, and Zipporah (all in purple), who live approximately 20 kilometers south of Bungoma. Her deceased husband had several other wives. Alice’s children are in red, and her grandchildren (thin borders) are in green, orange, light blue, and yellow. Zipporah’s children are in light purple and blue. In-laws and friends are in white. (Fig 2, p. 270)

Article Abstract
"Kenyans use mobile money services to transfer money to friends and relatives via mobile phone text messaging. Kenya’s M-Pesa is one of the most successful examples of digital money for financial inclusion. This article uses social network analysis and ethnographic information to examine ties to and through women in 12 mobile money transfer networks of kin, drawn from field data collected in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The social networks are based on reciprocal and dense ties among siblings and parents, especially mothers. Men participate equally in social networks, but as brothers and mother’s brothers more often than as fathers. The matrilineal ties of mobile money circulate value within the hearthhold (Ekejiuba 2005) of women, their children, and others connected to them. Using remittances, families negotiate investments in household farming or work, education, and migration. Money sending supports the diverse economic strategies, flexible kinship ties, and mobility of hearthholds. Gifts of e-money are said to express a natural love and caring among mothers and siblings and are often private and personal. Consequently, the money circulations of the hearthhold avoid disrupting widely shared ideals of patrilineal solidarity and household autonomy."
Economic Anthropology 2016; 3: 266-279

The full article can be accessed here

Read more about Sibel Kusimba's IMTFI research here and here

To learn more about Sibel Kusimba's use of social network analysis as an ethnographic method, see her case study featured in the Consumer Finance Research Methods Toolkit, pp. 35-40, (Verbal Interviews)

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