I have two main research interests focused on gender and development in Latin America and globally: (i) human wellbeing, gender and international migration and (ii) gender, microfinance and sustainable livelihoods.
My first monograph, International Migration, Development and Human Wellbeing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) draws on ESRC-funded research that I was awarded to investigate the construction of human well-being amongst Latin American migrants in London and Madrid. This monograph applies human well-being theory to the case of international migration and as such is the first of its kind. It discusses the concept of 'living well' - exploring how human well-being is constructed and how it 'travels' across spatial boundaries. It also highlights the role of social variables such as gender and generation. Drawing on empirical research, undertaken with Peruvian migrants based in London and Madrid, I investigate the needs that migrants identify in their attempts to 'live well'. By examining the perspectives of their Peru-based relatives and close friends, I move the analysis beyond consideration of how wellbeing is constructed in particular locations to consider the inter-subjective impacts of this migration and the global interconnectedness of human wellbeing outcomes. Incorporating a human wellbeing perspective implies a radical rethink of development studies and policy because it necessitates much greater cross-disciplinary insights and understanding of the interconnectedness of North and South in terms of human wellbeing outcomes both for those that migrate and the relatives that remain. Additionally, 6 international journal articles (including one special issue in the Journal of International Development) were produced from the ESRC-funded empirical work.
My most recent monograph (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) builds on this by focusing on how human well-being is constructed and transferred intergenerationally in the context of international migration - exploring both processes of transmission as well as outcomes. The theoretical basis for this book formed the basis of an article I published in Progress in Development Studies in 2016 investigating intergenerational transfers over the life course, which addressed temporal and gendered complexities via a human well-being approach. This second monograph argues that the adoption of an intergenerational life course and human well-being perspective has relationality at its heart which offers a view of the life course as dynamic and fluid, enabling the study of how lives are interconnected across time and space. This opens up a discussion of how transfers operate in more complex household structures as families are reconfigured via cycles of relationship dissolution and re-partnering forming part of broader international migration trajectories. A further key argument presented is that locating inter-generational transfers historically and temporally in the context of multiple migrations at critical life junctures deepens understanding of gendered processes of transmission in childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle age and later life. Importantly, the use of intergenerational chains (such as mothers and daughters) allows the identification of continuities in gender roles and ideologies, as well as offering insight into ruptures, dissonance and ambivalences.
My main contribution to the area of gender, microfinance and sustainable livelihoods has been related to placing concerns with sustainability within the broader context of poverty alleviation, meaningful community participation in decision-making and recognition of the importance of social and cultural contexts. My research interconnects areas such as social inequalities (such as gender, race and class), sustainable livelihoods, sustainable development, and microfinance, and situates these within the broader theories of international development. My main contributions to this area have been via 5 additional internationally refereed journal articles including Journal of Microfinance, Journal of International Development, Development Policy Review, Global Social Policy, IDS Bulletin and a book entitled Money with a Mission: Managing the Social Performance of Microfinance (ITDG, 2003). This book reflects the implications of a social performance management agenda from the perspective of twelve partners from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, who participated in a three-year Ford-Foundation funded microfinance action-research programme called Imp-Act. The book outlines the social performance agenda and the processes of discovery and self-discovery that underlie programme learning. In contrast to available impact assessment frameworks, learning through Imp-Act has been largely driven by the Microfinance institutions' own goals and perspectives. This was based on learning from a three-year action research project financed by the Ford Foundation (Development Finance Affinity Group) to improve the Impact of Microfinance on Poverty. It involved collaborative action research into institutionalising systems of impact monitoring and assessment in 40 microfinance institutions across Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.