Sentimentality or speculation? Diaspora investment, crisis economies and urban transformation

McGregor, JoAnn (2014) Sentimentality or speculation? Diaspora investment, crisis economies and urban transformation. Geoforum, 56. pp. 172-181. ISSN 0016-7185

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This article explores political and moral economies of diasporic investment in urban property. It challenges uncritical policy discourses on migrant investment that romanticise transnational family and entrepreneurial networks by assuming diasporic social embeddedness, mutual trust, risk-reduction and socio-economic benefits, often founded in neo-liberal assumptions. The article elaborates alternate starting propositions emphasising the conflicting interests and predatory business practices that characterise informalised state governance and episodes of crisis. It stresses the importance of understanding changing regulatory regimes over finance and urban property. Migrants’ desires need to be scrutinised in relation to those of a range of other actors who cannot be assumed to have convergent interests – including relatives, investment advisors, money transfer companies, estate agents, property developers. The article takes the case of hyperinflationary Zimbabwe, where remittances from the displaced middle classes not only provided essential familial support, but were also materialised in urban real estate, contributing to inflated property prices and a residential construction boom in the capital city. Diasporic investors were vulnerable to fraud due to the combination of effects of fantasies of successful return to dream homes and irregular regimes for remittances and property. But there were notable speculative opportunities for those with government connections. New diaspora suburbs and homes that have transformed the landscape of the Harare periphery stand as material testimony to the intersection of emigré sentimentality and the speculative informalised economy of the crisis years.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography > GF101 Settlements > GF125 Cities. Urban geography
Depositing User: Joann McGregor
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2014 13:16
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2021 12:00

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