Hadia Akhtar Khan is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research investigates how transnational householding is reshaping kinship and gender relations within the context of economic restructuring in rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
Migrant joint families have amassed significant amounts of wealth through the ownership of convenience stores in Malaysia and ‘temporary’ marriages to Malaysian women. Men are able to migrate and still uphold honor in the village by leaving their Pashtun wives and children under the patriarchal protection of a brother within the joint family, which the migrant supports with remittances. This transnational ‘joint’ family enterprise, comprised of the convenience store and Malaysian family headed by the migrant in Malaysia, and the farm and family headed by the brother in Pakistan, is able to become upwardly mobile because of fraternal solidarity and multiple wifehoods. On the one hand, this mutuality, care and compromise within the joint family allows it to accumulate assets under culturally and morally appropriate conditions. On the other, hierarchies, conflicts and extractions between family members animate the everyday and more eventful conflicts over who does what (labour) and who is owed what (entitlement) share in the fruits of family labor. My dissertation analyzes how these complex and contradictory kinship and gender relations, comprised of the inextricably linked aspects of mutuality and difference, shape upward mobility and the emergence of economic and social hierarchies between family members.