Bonding Collective? The moral infrastructures of transnational hometown networks
This working paper is part of a comparative research project looking at three immigrant groups (two North African Berber groups: the Moroccan Chleuhs and the Algerian Kabyles; and the Sikh Punjabis from India) residing in two receiving countries (France and the UK). This work seeks to explain the emergence since the early 1990s of hometown associations committed to the development of their place of origin. This research draws on a previous doctoral study on Moroccan Berber immigrants in France. Since then, I have extended this research to the other two groups. This choice has been underpinned by the prospect of comparing this first group with one which displays strong similarities (the Berber Kabyles from Algeria) and another which presents distinct features (the Sikh Punjabis). The three migrations have been spurred by British and French colonisation. They are three ethnic minority groups in their origin countries which have become the forerunner of the Indian and North African migration systems. However, the conditions of their settlement in the arrival countries are obviously different. The Berber groups have predominantly remained working-class groups while the Punjabis have enjoyed a better economic integration into multicultural Britain. However, despite their common cultural, religious and historical features, Algerian Kabyles turn out to be far less committed to transnational practices than their Moroccan counterpart. Conversely, Moroccans and Indians both display a high level of engagement in cross-border development projects. Relying on Mill’s laws of comparison, my intention is to uncover the common factors which have led these two distinct groups to engage in similar practices. The Kabyle/Chleuh comparison is likely to help us highlight why some groups form developmental hometown groups while others do not. The analysis initially rests on the structure agency approach. However, the research has been heavily influenced by the theory of communicative action of Jürgen Habermas, which offers a better framework to address the coordination of collective actions. This has led me to unravel the symbolic framework which underpins the implementation of a development project, a symbolic framework which allows migrants to use remittances as a means of expression of who they are and how they position themselves within and toward the spaces of departure and arrival. This paper is the first of three working papers addressing the different layers of structural constraints which were conducive to the implementation of collective remittances of development: the moral-practical infrastructures, the agential structures and the institutional superstructures.