What can ethnography contribute to microfinance research?

March 9th 2014

Recently I've been hearing a lot about the difficulties involved in understanding microfinance customers and tailoring products to their needs. Microfinance experts across the industry have identified the need to understand microfinance customers better in order to meet the "double bottom line"; that is, provide a financial return as well as creating a positive social impact.

Making a profit and fulfilling social needs simultaneously is challenging. In fact, some argue that the "products for the poor" model is fatally flawed because the goal of profit is incompatible with the goal of generating social benefits. Unable to turn a profit, organizations suffer from "mission drift."

Cash in crisis: Mobilizing agents in post-earthquake Haiti

January 14th 2014

Crisis is often linked to reductions in circulation of one sort or another. Economic crisis, such as the GFC, involves the slowing down of circulation of monetary value. Political crises, such as the recent shutdown of the US congress, see procedures of governance and statehood come to a halt. And human crises often prompt changes in circulation, such as displacement due to a natural disaster, or long stays in refugee camps.

Circulation in crisis

November 16th 2013

What do murder, microfinance, and black markets in reptiles have in common? They all featured as part of a panel called "Circulation in Times of Crisis" at the Australian Anthropology Society conference in Canberra from the 5th to 8th November. Convened by Heather Horst and Marta Rosales, this panel explored the relationships between flows and blockages of people, things, information, and media.

Dominican Republic strips citizenship from Haitian descendents

October 28th 2013

Maria crossed the border into the Dominican Republic in 1979. Tired of searching endlessly for work in her home town of Thiotte, Haiti, she settled in Aguas Negras permanently to work illegally in the local coffee industry.

Her daughter, Fredelina, was born two years later in a tiny house made of sticks and mud. Although both her mother and her father were illegal immigrants, Fredelina was automatically entitled to citizenship under the Dominican constitution.