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Abstract

This article explores caring through feeding as an important aspect of transnational family life, and analyzes the practices connected to sending food products home, supervising what the family eats, and changing consumption patterns. It focuses on Filipino migrants to the United States who maintain transnational ties with their families. With a history of colonial encounter, the United States has been a popular migration destination, and has also strongly influenced food consumption. The study shows the ways in which packages from abroad (balikbayan boxes) express love and care, and how they allow migrants to control food consumption of the family in the country of origin. By looking at the goods the immigrants put in the packages, and the way these are received, it is possible to uncover the dynamics of love, care, and intimacy in transnational families, which often translate into power, tensions, and control among family-members. The article analyses how food products sent in the packages work, bringing with them new ideas and practices, creating imaginaries of migration, and building the social prestige of the immigrant. Using the concept of “social remittances”, the article also shows the changing patterns of food consumption in the Philippines.
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