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Title: Marriage/breakdown amongst Punjabi-Sikhs in Canada : a legal ethnography of disputants, (un)official forums, and access to family justice in Ontario, Canada
Author: Virdi, Manprit Kaur
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5603
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This doctoral thesis examines Punjabi-Sikhs, a transnational diaspora community, to consider the extent to which Canadian multicultural accommodation extends into the realm of Ontario family law and struggles with ethnic diversity. The findings of this thesis aim to prove the practical relevance of such research and it hopes to establish an interest in future projects on the access to justice needs of ethnic minorities. Marriage and marriage breakdown being the chosen site of analysis, the objective is to map the dispute processes parties employ, navigating between official and unofficial forums and actors. 'Law as process' literature is employed, including legal pluralism and dispute settlement studies, to examine the dynamic process of mitigating marriage breakdown within and outside of the official law. This thesis demonstrates that kinship-oriented Punjabi-Sikh transmigrants approach the official family law assuming that their justiciable issues can be upheld, whereas official law actors, guided by the liberal, secular and individual framework of Ontario family law, struggle to adequately comprehend and/or resolve such disputes. While some navigational factors, such as the presence of physical violence entail necessary legal intervention to secure individual human rights, others involve the instrumental use of the law to punish or manipulate the other spouse. Within the unofficial sphere, this thesis establishes that Punjabi-Sikh disputants resort to a variety of kinship and Sikhi-focused forums and actors before, in parallel and after family law proceedings. It is established that the multiple framework approach of Punjabi-Sikh disputants means that the official and unofficial spheres are utilised simultaneously to address marriage breakdown. For this legal ethnography, a mixed methodology approach is adopted, consisting of legal casework, coding, critical discourse analysis, and semi-structured interviews. The primary fieldwork data comprises both family law cases and interviews with married, separated and divorced Punjabi-Sikhs in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral