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Arranging Marriage

Conjugal Agency in the South Asian Diaspora

2018
Author:

Marian Aguiar

Arranging Marriage

The first critical analysis of contemporary arranged marriage among South Asians in a global context

Marian Aguiar analyzes arranged marriage as a transnational cultural phenomenon, revealing how its meaning has been continuously reinvented within the South Asian diaspora of Britain, the United States, and Canada. She advocates situating arranged marriage discourses within their social and material contexts to see past reductive notions of culture and grasp the global forces mediating increasingly polarized visions of agency.

With this timely and interesting book, Marian Aguiar locates arranged marriage on a spectrum between coercion and choice, against the tendency to read it off at the two extremes. By contextualizing it historically and geographically she shows us how arranged marriage has changed over time and according to place.

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, New York University

Arranged marriage is an institution of global fascination—an object of curiosity, revulsion, outrage, and even envy. Marian Aguiar provides the first sustained analysis of arranged marriage as a transnational cultural phenomenon, revealing how its meaning has been continuously reinvented within the South Asian diaspora of Britain, the United States, and Canada. Aguiar identifies and analyzes representations of arranged marriage in an interdisciplinary set of texts—from literary fiction and Bollywood films, to digital and print media, to contemporary law and policy on forced marriage.

Aguiar interprets depictions of Asian arranged marriage to show we are in a moment of conjugal globalization, identifying how narratives about arranged marriage bear upon questions of consent, agency, state power, and national belonging. Aguiar argues that these discourses illuminate deep divisions in the processes of globalization constructed on a fault line between individualist and collectivist agency and in the process, critiques neoliberal celebrations of “culture as choice” that attempt to bridge that separation. Aguiar advocates situating arranged marriage discourses within their social and material contexts so as to see past reductive notions of culture and grasp the global forces mediating increasingly polarized visions of agency.

Arranging Marriage

Marian Aguiar is associate professor of literary and cultural studies at Carnegie Mellon University. She is author of Tracking Modernity: India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility (Minnesota, 2011).

Arranging Marriage

With this timely and interesting book, Marian Aguiar locates arranged marriage on a spectrum between coercion and choice, against the tendency to read it off at the two extremes. By contextualizing it historically and geographically she shows us how arranged marriage has changed over time and according to place.

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, New York University

A timely feminist intervention in the Orientalized preoccupations with arranged marriage in the West, Marian Aguiar has given us a lucid and fresh account of arranged marriage, taking readers through the concept’s transnational circuits. The rich archive assembled here—literature, film, court cases, state documents—is sure to unsettle preconceived Western notions of arranged marriages. What follows is a measured, insightful commentary on questions of consent and agency, but also labor, migration, state power, and national belonging.

Jyoti Puri, Simmons College

Arranging Marriage

Contents
Preface
Introduction: Discursive Contexts
1. The Subject of Agency
2. “Forced Marriage” and a Culture of Consent
3. Britain: The Politics of Belonging
4. The United States and Canada: Individual Freedom and Community
5. Regenerating Tradition through Transnational Popular Culture
Conclusion: A Cultural Studies Approach
Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index