I’ve designed this semester to benefit from the interactions between my various courses: Bonnie McEwan’s Media Advocacy in the Global Public Sphere, Nitin’s course and the Hong Kong IFP. My IFP interests concern the situation of the migrant laborers in Hong Kong, specifically those from South Asia, and their economic practices. At this time, I’m primarily thinking of remittances. If I should learn of other relevant practices, I’d like to include them as well.
As an undergraduate, I researched remittances in North America and found that one of the issues for migrant laborers was the fees charged by such organizations as Western Union. Because many migrant laborers operate outside of normal channels of finance, they are subject to sometimes excessive charges. Considering the technological changes that have occurred in the intervening years, I would like to evaluate the current practices and specific means by which migrant laborers transfer remittances. Depending on what I learn, I’d like to explore the applicability and availability of alternative models of banking, such as the mobile money network M-PESA which is offered by the Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom, in Hong Kong. I’m also interested in more conceptual, artistic projects such as Space Bank.
The questions guiding my research and project are as follows: have migrant laborers found more efficient methods to remit payments to their families? If so, what methods do they use? How wide is this knowledge disseminated?
As part of the IFP preparations, I’m exploring comparable sites here in New York. I’ve chosen Roosevelt Avenue located in Queens. Please find my developing site description here http://peterood.wordpress.com/hong-kong-ifp/