Philippine women on the move: marriage across borders

2008 | journal article

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​Philippine women on the move: marriage across borders​
Lauser, A. ​ (2008) 
International Migration46(4) pp. 85​-110​.​ DOI: 

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Lauser, Andrea 
This paper discusses how Philippine transnational marriage migration is intertwined in complex and paradoxical ways with global, local and personal matters. My argument will blur the artificial and still dominant analytical division between marriage migrants (wives or “mail order” brides) and labour migrants (workers – mainly domestic workers). Focusing on the life histories of different Filipina women, the paper illustrates the intersections and multiplicity of their roles as wives, mistresses, workers, mothers, daughters and citizens in a transnational migratory space.Furthermore, I go along with those scholars who argue that women do not only marry in order to migrate, but that they also migrate in order to marry, as marriage is seen as an important aspect of social fulfilment. By carefully investigating these emerging transnational or even global marriage-scapes, I analyze the different motives, logics and desires that come into play. While women from the Philippines may look for “modern husbands” and “modern marriages” because of local constraints on their marriage opportunities, many western men turn to Asia and the Philippines for “traditional” wives whom they imagine to be more “conservative” and “less demanding.” Both often discover that their gender stereotypes are more imagined than real.The stories illustrate how Filipina migrants use different socio-cultural and socio-economic situations across transnational space – and at times against local gender constructions – in order to renegotiate and reclaim a respectable and desired marital status. On the one hand, these women are subject to manifold localised, legal and religious-moral definitions as women and wives. On the other hand, they creatively and actively utilise structural differences and new opportunities across transnational space to redefine themselves. The stories thus show both the women’s agency and the importance of structural factors.
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International Migration 
Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät ; Institut für Ethnologie 



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