The “marriage market” among Punjabi migrant families in Italy : designs, resistances, and gateways
Title: The “marriage market” among Punjabi migrant families in Italy : designs, resistances, and gateways
Author: BONFANTI, Sara
Citation: Human affairs, 2015, Vol 25, No. 1, pp. 16-27
Series/Number: [Migration Policy Centre]
ISSN: 1210-3055; 1337-401X
The dowry system originated in South Asia and the new patterns of household formation among Indian migrant minorities have been debated in the international literature, particularly in the UK. However, less attention has been paid to the pre-marital bargaining strategies used in the most recent Punjabi immigration to Italy (to date the largest Indian Diaspora in Europe) and to how a certain idea of kinship and a cultural code of spousal/parental relations are enacted through gift, exchange and favor. This article explores the “marriage market” among youth of Punjabi descent in Italy (between first and second immigrant generations), investigating the bride-groom selection procedures and the economic transactions which endorse a wedding agreement. Reports of ethnographic research just concluded in the northern rural districts of Bergamo and Brescia indicate that dissonant subjective narratives give voice to family and community conflicts across genders and ages in setting up new domestic groups, capturing the shifting local milieu after the economic crisis. Using an intersectional perspective, which highlights diversity in the Italian Punjabi community (with regard to class, caste and faith), we ascertain how categories of social difference are reproduced, contested and transformed throughout wedlock, and see how a traditional tempered endogamy has long become transnational and partly disrupted. Analyzing how young Indian Italians selectively resort to discourses about love/convenience, right/duty, control/autonomy, we will consider whether and how personal agencies may navigate hierarchical structures such as patriarchy, social inequality and capitalist development.
Published online : 30 December 2014
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