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Abstract

This article explores a culturally sensitive topic, envy, among Bolivian migrants in Spain. Following a constructivist approach to emotions, we examine discourses of envy, as they are shaped by the cultural contexts in which they emerge. Our study uses a sample of 30 transnational households and multi-sited ethnography to illustrate the ways emotions and their effects on sociality serve as a mechanism of social control, especially when the boundaries of such a community have been stretched transnationally. Envy is an important component of a belief system central to understanding the emergence, or lack thereof, of trust and solidarity among migrants and can shape the types of social relations and conflicts between migrants and non-migrant households back in Bolivia. These conflicts have been exacerbated by economic instability, high unemployment rates and precarious wages especially for the undocumented migrant community in Spain.