Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Rishtas : transnational Pakistani marriages
Author: Charsley, Katharine
ISNI:       0000 0001 2453 3790
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
In the year 2000, over ten thousand Pakistani nationals obtained entry clearance to join spouses in the UK. In examining this phenomenon, this thesis joins recent scholarship in moving away from an ethnic minorities approach stressing the maintenance of community integrity vis-d-vis the White majority, to one focussing on membership of transnational communities. Attempts have been made to conceptualise differing transnationalisms, but there are limits to the extent that the complexity and diversity of transnational engagements can be captured by the broad theoretical brushstrokes of much writing in this field. This ethnographic exploration of the kinship connections that form the experiential basis of global and local relationships demonstrates the role of gender, age, origin, kinship, class, and lifecourse events in creating variation in individuals' engagement with the transnational. In all cases, however, I argue for the utility of exploring the meanings of the indigenous concept of rishta, understood as 'match', 'proposal', or 'connection'. A focus on rishta as connection eliminates the contrast between strategic and emotional concerns evident in the literature on Pakistani marriage practices. Transnational marriages in particular highlight the various facets of a desirable rishta, by increasing the potential for connections both with much-missed family in other countries, and to opportunities, status and wealth. Such unions also, however, heighten the risks involved in arranging marriages. The literature on South Asian and transnational marriages has prioritised kinship obligations, and social or financial strategising. Drawing on the anthropology of emotion, this research emphasises risk reduction as a motivating factor in arranging marriages. Parental exegeses stress the need to protect daughters, conceptualised as vulnerable to mistreatment by in-laws. British Pakistani parents' arrangement of their children's marriages to trusted close kin raised in an Islamic society is shown to be one response to this risk. The risks involved in transnational marriage vary. Parents of British Pakistani young women are often concerned that a Pakistani husband will use the marriage simply for economic migration, or will be refused a visa, leaving an effectively single daughter who is no longer a virgin. One strategy uncovered by this research is the practice of disaggregating the marriage ceremony, delaying consummation until after the husband has arrived in Britain. In contrast, there is no tradition of concern for the fate of a married son, who would normally bring a wife to live in his parental home. In transnational marriage, however, husbands and wives migrate in equal numbers, and migrant men may initially live with their in-laws, in a position analogous to the traditionally undesirable status of ghar damad(house son-in-law). Combined with social and economic difficulties, this situation can prevent migrant husbands fulfilling Pakistani ideals of masculinity. For some, this is an extremely frustrating experience. Finally, if attempts to manage risk fail and divorce occurs, rifts can develop in kin groups as relatives take sides. Such instances often ride on challenges to the honour of individuals or families. The literature on this subject tends to downplay or even exclude the role of emotion in honour. Careful examination of case studies and reports of 'honour killings', however, show points of slippage between these categories, leading to a discussion of the gendering of emotion. While it is an anthropological commonplace that marriage is primarily a relationship between groups, this thesis therefore reinstates the role of Individual emotional relations in Pakistani marriages. These are not necessarily, however, the bonds between husband and wife,, but those between parents and children, and migrants and the siblings they leave behind.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available