Reena Kukreja, “Why Would I Be Married Here?: Marriage Migration and Dispossession in Neoliberal India” (Cornell UP, 2022)

Why Would I Be Married Here?: Marriage Migration and Dispossession in Neoliberal India (Cornell UP, 2022) examines marriage migration undertaken by rural bachelors in North India, unable to marry locally, who travel across the breadth of India seeking brides who do not share the same caste, ethnicity, language, or customs as themselves. Combining rich ethnographic evidence with Dalit feminist and political economy frameworks, Reena Kukreja connects the macro-political violent process of neoliberalism to the micro-personal level of marriage and intimate gender relations to analyze the lived reality of this set of migrant brides in cross-region marriages among dominant-peasant caste Hindus and Meo Muslims in rural North India.

Why Would I Be Married Here? reveals how predatory capitalism links with patriarchy to dispossess many poor women from India’s marginalized Dalit and Muslim communities of marriage choices in their local communities. It reveals how, within the context of the increasing spread of capitalist relations, these women’s pragmatic cross-region migration for marriage needs to be reframed as an exercise of their agency that simultaneously exposes them to new forms of gender subordination and internal othering of caste discrimination and ethnocentrism in conjugal communities. Why Would I Be Married Here? offers powerful examples of how contemporary forces of neoliberalism reshape the structural oppressions compelling poor women from marginalized communities worldwide into making compromised choices about their bodies, their labor, and their lives.

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