Retiring Home? House Construction, Age Inscriptions and the Building of Belonging among Mexican Migrants and their Families in Chicago and Rural Mexico.
Franziska Bedorf and Julia Pauli – 2018
The vacant retirement house has become a central feature of many areas of the Global South. Over the years, migrants’ savings are invested in the building of conspicuous houses for retirement in their areas of origin. But despite these substantial efforts, a number of migrants postpone their return or do not return at all. Their houses remain empty, their purposes shifting as their owners reach old age. This stretching of time does not only affect the migrants’ livelihoods and ideas of home. Furthermore, kin-scripts as conceptualized by Stack and Burton (1993) are being reconfigured substantially. This goes hand-in-hand with the reframing of culturally prescribed responsibilities, meanings, and social roles attached to certain stages of the migrants’ lives. Based on long-term and multi-local ethnographic fieldwork in rural Mexico and urban Chicago since the 1990s, we analyze how remittance houses are tied and untied with their owners’ life courses in the later stages of life. Furthermore, we examine how kin groups on both sides of the border deal with the new challenges this entails.