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Credit apartheid, migrants, mines and money

James, Deborah and Rajak, Dinah (2014) Credit apartheid, migrants, mines and money. African Studies, 73 (3). pp. 455-476. ISSN 0002-0184

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00020184.2014.962872


Migrant life has long required a careful balancing of responsibilities. Migrants travel to earn a wage in a capitalist economy while saving resources and honouring obligations which arise in a seemingly less-than-capitalist one. Various agents – rural patriarchs, traders, government authorities, appliance retailers – have used techniques to keep wages beyond migrants’ control. Paradoxically, similar techniques have, on occasion, been eagerly embraced by migrants themselves, who know that these resources will need to be husbanded for the upkeep of home. This article explores these contradictions, showing that recent forms of debt build on expectations born of forms of credit that proliferated earlier, but differ in consolidating these forms of credit to produce an unimpeded flow of money into migrants’ bank accounts and out of them again. It looks at the advantages and dangers of the recent expansion of credit to constituencies – like migrants – where it previously did not reach.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Routledge
Divisions: Anthropology
International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2014 08:42
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:12
Projects: RES-062-23-1290
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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