Remitting wealth, reciprocating health? The “travel” of the land from Guinea-Bissau to Portugal

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ABSTRACT

Homegrown food and other products of Guinea-Bissau's natural world offer protection and well-being to Guinean migrants in Portugal. In exploring this aspect of migration, I consider well-being in relation to both body and mind, in terms of health and illness and of solidarity and its withholding. Drawing on a multisited ethnography that looked equally at migrants and their nonmigrant kin, I link food, body, and mind to relationships of giving and reciprocating across borders in ways that challenge the classic assumption that the primary value of transnational migrant exchanges is economic. I argue that the active role of home-based kin in these exchanges and the travel of the materiality and symbology of the Guinean land that they facilitate are as central to migrants’ well-being as migrants’ financial and material remittances are to the well-being of those at home.

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