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Discursive representations and policy mobility: how migrant remittances became a ‘development tool’

Global Networks

Published online on


In this article, I focus on two sets of practices that researchers and policy advocates carry out within international organizations and think tanks promoting what I term the remittances‐to‐development (R‐2‐D) agenda. Their work conjured up, elaborated and diffused a representation of remittances as a financial flow and made remittances visible as a promising source of development finance for the global South. First, there is the work of discursive representation in which the advocates of the R‐2‐D agenda collected, compiled and visually represented data to draw out the characteristics of remittances that would make them attractive to development policymakers. Second, there were the policy transfer efforts, in which the champions of the R‐2‐D agenda wielded various forms of soft power to convince national government officials to ‘improve’ remittances statistics by adopting new measurement techniques. These practices turned remittances into a neoliberal development tool.