A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Migration and Economic Development: Middle Eastern Migration from Kerala, India
Based on qualitative fieldwork among 276 households, the author examines the use of remittances in three villages in Kerala, India, which has experience large-scale migration to countries around the Persian Gulf. The author finds that remittance expenditure varied significantly according to community cohesiveness structure and the cultural-religious background of villages. In the Mappila (Keralite Muslim) village, remittances were distributed to the largest circle of people within the community and to supporting religious activities. In the Ezhava (lower caste Keralite Hindu) village, migrant households spent large sums of money on elaborations of life-cycle rituals during which there was lavish gift giving and entertaining. Thus, there was a smaller circle of exchange than in the Mappila village. In the Syrian Christian (upper caste Keralite Christian) community,the gains of migration were largely confined to the immediate family, such financing education and dowries. The major forms of economic investment in the three communities varied also, from business activities in the Mappila Muslim community, to usurious lending in the Ezhava Hindu village, to fixed deposits and bonds in the Syrian Christian locality.