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‘I arranged my own marriage': arranged marriages and post-colonial feminism

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This article looks at the practice of arranged marriage among women of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin resident in Britain. It examines the conflation of arranged marriages with forced marriages and the assumption that arranged marriages are examples of cultural practices that thwart individual agency. Drawing upon original empirical data, this article will argue that in the practice of arranged marriage, some South Asian women are able to exercise agency while choosing their marriage partner. They adapt traditional arranged marriage practices to navigate their way around strict cultural expectations and to negotiate with their family members the choice of a match that is favourable for them. It provides a corrective account of arranged marriages by challenging the stereotype of the ‘oppressed third world women' and their experiences of such marriages. The article will do this by employing the idea of post-colonial feminism and by highlighting two long-standing issues in feminist debates: the idea of agency and the conception and role of power in the struggle for women's rights. It will make a case for a post-colonial approach to feminism as one way of reconciling feminism with the politics of multiculturalism.
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Keywords: British-Asians; agencia; agency; arranged marriages; asiáticas británicas; feminism; feminismo; matrimonios arreglados; poder; post-colonialism; post-colonialismo; power

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, South Road Durham University, Science Site, Durham,DH1 3LE, UK

Publication date: February 7, 2015

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