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Race, space, and agency in the international introduction industry: how American men perceive women’s agency in Colombia, Ukraine and the Philippines

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The international introduction industry, more commonly known as the ‘mail order bride’ industry, is often portrayed in American media as a conduit of human trafficking or a ploy by women from ‘third world’ countries to gain access to American citizenship. This study addresses how men participating in the international introduction industry perceived the industry and the agency/sincerity of women who participate in it across three different geographic spaces, namely Ukraine, Colombia and the Philippines, and how these perceptions often adopt racialized discourses that portrays white Ukrainian women as sexy ‘scammers’, while women of color are more likely to be portrayed as victims of poverty and patriarchy. Based on empirical data collected on romance tours within all geographic spaces with male participants, I suggest that men’s racialized assumptions regarding women’s intentions within the industry, as well as what type of agency they possess, are heavily based on tropes of the third world as backwards, traditional, and static.
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Keywords: Intimacy; marriage; migration; race

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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