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Affective investments in the Manila region: Filipina migrants in rural Japan and transnational urban development in the Philippines



Over the past few decades, remittances from overseas migrant labourers have come to play an important role in fuelling demand for new residential developments in countries like the Philippines. This paper draws attention to how financial flows enabling this urban development are tied to transnational migrants’ experiences abroad. Drawing on more than 2 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Japan and the Philippines, it considers how, why and to what ends some Filipina wives of Japanese men in rural Nagano, Japan, aspire to build houses in the Manila region, and it explores how these real estate investments are linked to the affective processes through which these women transnationally craft lives and selves. Approaching affect as a site of subject-making, this essay suggests these houses are best understood as ‘affective investments’ that are shaped not only by capitalist practices and state policies, but also by the discourses of hope, frustration, shame, fear, desire and longing through which these women make sense of their transnational lives. The paper thereby illustrates how affect and political economics can intertwine in migrants’ investment decisions and, thus, the transnational role affect can play in articulating hegemonic urban development plans.