Marketisation as financialisation in the making? The construction of remittance markets in Senegal

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Abstract

This article traces the emergence of the ‘remittance-financial inclusion nexus’ to examine how a broad coalition of institutional, commercial and financial actors use remittances as a key entry point to integrate the ‘unbanked’ and ‘underbanked’ into global finance. Previous studies of the ‘financialisation of remittances’ have proved vital in deconstructing the assumptions behind, and shedding light on, the negative impacts of initiatives that aim to construct and expand financial markets on the back of remittances. However, little is said about the intricate and grounded operations that are required for such financialising projects to materialise, leaving finance and the concrete formation of remittance markets black-boxed. Drawing upon the work of scholars that have recently taken up the task of bringing the scholarship on the international political economy of global finance and financialisation and the work on finance and market formation inspired by science and technology studies into a productive dialogue, this article analyses not only how the construction of remittance markets sustain processes of capital accumulation, but also how these are made possible and experienced in practice. To do so, it posits the geographies of remittance marketisation as an analytical framework, which allows for an exploration of the construction, stabilisation and expansion of remittance markets not as natural but contested and contingent projects that require constant renegotiations. Drawing upon research undertaken in Dakar and Thies in Senegal, the article shows that building markets that enable remittance money transfers to be tapped into by state and private sector actors requires extensive financial, material, technological, legal and discursive constructions and, importantly, behavioural engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-245
Number of pages11
JournalGeoforum
Volume117
Early online date13 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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