Tag Archives: Juggling

Financial Practices on “the Borderlands” (La Línea) in Times of Crisis

[Nuevo artículo de Magdalena Villarreal y Lya Niño: “Financial Practices on “the Borderlands” (La Línea) in Times of Crisis” en  Human Organization]

“Financial Practices on “the Borderlands” (La Línea) in Times of Crisis”

Magdalena Villarreal & Lya Niño


Financial practices are not only about money. This paper discusses how people living and working in the Mexico/United States borderlands weave their economic lives by combining, associating, and disassociating formal and “informal” currencies. We base our analysis on transactions carried out by women who commute regularly between the twin cities of Mexicali and Calexico, detailing their financial practices; the frameworks of calculation they employ; and the social, cultural, and financial mechanisms they and their families use to cope with their daily lives. These include the use of monetary and non-monetary calculations and resources, different types of indebtedness and forms of reciprocity. Such findings reveal mistakes in the tenets upon which much anti-poverty and financial aid programs are based. A focus on people’s use of particular calculations, resources, and social relations will help substantiate better alternatives that can be implemented in supporting their economies. Continue reading

‘Quoras’, pesos and dollars” juggling currencies in trans-border contexts

[Magdalena Villarreal (CIESAS) and Lya Niño (University of Baja California, México) cuentan de su investigación “‘Quoras’, [1] pesos and dollars. Juggling currencies in trans-border contexts”. La nota es en inglés pero, como siempre, comentarios en español y portugués son muy bienvenidos]

The borderline that separates the Mexican city of Mexicali from its twin in the north —Calexico, in the United States— is a scene of intense activity. A significant amount of people –the great majority of whom are Mexican— cross it systematically to get to their workplaces, for business, socialization or to reach their sleeping quarters. In this process, commuters must juggle with different currencies, wherein economies, cultures, normative and diverse practices, often conceived as different and disintegrated, intertwine. The border tends to be analytically dealt with as a dividing line. This is not surprising, considering that it separates two nations with their different economies, languages and legislations.

But our focus is different. We perceive the border as the fertile axis of transit for those who cross it every day in managing their economic and financial lives. We thus pay particular attention to the financial operations that take place in the homes of trans-border women, that is, women who commute regularly between the twin cities of Mexicali and Calexico. Some of them live in Mexico and work in the United States, others live on the American side of the border but their families are in Mexico and their economy is framed in Mexican social and cultural contexts. Some work within circuits (corridas) that operate between the two countries following a particular crop. Continue reading