Remitting wealth, reciprocating health? The “travel” of the land from Guinea-Bissau to Portugal

by Maria Abranches

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By Maria AbranchesFull Article: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12074/abstract


(image:
http://americanethnologist.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/04/abranches-figure1-500px-287x300.jpg alt: Wrapping packages to be sent to Lisbon, at Neusa’s agency in Bissau, April 9, 2010. Photo by Maria Abranches.

Wrapping packages to be sent to Lisbon, at Neusa’s agency in Bissau, April 9, 2010. Photo by Maria Abranches.

) Wrapping packages to be sent to Lisbon, at Neusa’s agency in Bissau, April 9, 2010. Photo by Maria Abranches.Homegrown food and other products of Guinea-Bissau’s natural world offer protection and well-being to Guinean migrants in Portugal. In exploring this aspect of migration, I consider well-being in relation to both body and mind, in terms of health and illness and of solidarity and its withholding. Drawing on a multisited ethnography that looked equally at migrants and their nonmigrant kin, I link food, body, and mind to relationships of giving and reciprocating across borders in ways that challenge the classic assumption that the primary value of transnational migrant exchanges is economic. I argue that the active role of home-based kin in these exchanges and the travel of the materiality and symbology of the Guinean land that they facilitate are as central to migrants’ well-being as migrants’ financial and material remittances are to the well-being of those at home.