Illuminating how international marriages are negotiated, arranged, and experienced, Cross-Border Marriages is the first book to chart marital migrations involving women and men of diverse national, ethnic, and class backgrounds. The migrations studied here cross geographical borders of provinces, rural-urban borders within nation-states, and international boundaries, including those of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. Looking at assumptions about the connection between international marriages and poverty, opportunism, and women's mobility, the book draws attention to ideas about global patterns of inequality that are thought to pressure poor women to emigrate to richer countries, while simultaneously suggesting the limitations of such views.
Breaking from studies that regard the international bride as a victim of circumstance and the mechanisms of international marriage as traffic in commodified women, these essays challenge any simple idea of global hypergamy and present a nuanced understanding where a variety of factors, not the least of which is desire, come into play. Indeed, most contemporary marriage-scapes involve women who relocate in order to marry; rarely is it the men. But Nicole Constable and the volume contributors demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, these brides are not necessarily poor, nor do they categorically marry men who are above them on the socioeconomic ladder.
Although often women may appear to be moving "up" from a less developed country to a more developed one, they do not necessarily move higher on the chain of economic resources. Complicating these and other assumptions about international marriages, the essays in this volume draw from interviews and rich ethnographic materials to examine women's and men's agency, their motivations for marriage, and the importance of familial pressures and obligations, cultural imaginings, fantasies, and desires, in addition to personal and economic factors.
Border-crossing marriages are significant for what they reveal about the intersection of local and global processes in the everyday lives of women and men whose marital opportunities variably yield both rich possibilities and bitter disappointments.
Nicole Constable, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, is the author of Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography and "Mail Order" Brides, among other works.