Shehri (city) brides between Indian Punjab and the UK: transnational hypergamy, Sikh women's agency and gendered geographies of power

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Abstract

This paper explores Sikh transnational marriages contracted between the UK and Indian Punjab. Ethnographic and statistical studies have found that transnational marriage is less popular among UK-born Indian Sikhs than Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. Those who marry transnationally tend to be less educated than those who marry in the UK, and there is an apparent pattern in transnational marriages wherein UK-born men are likely to marry women from India who are more educated than themselves, or shehri (city) women as they are called in Punjabi. The paper explores two shehri brides’ lived experience of marriage and explores the constraints on their agency and the forms that it takes at a number of ‘geographies’ or scales: in their relationships with their natal families, with their in-laws, husbands, the labour market and the state. The paper argues that state discourses problematising marriage migration in socio-economic and integration terms must be critiqued, not only because the shehri brides go against classed policy framings of the migrant wife but also because such framings deny the agency of all migrant women as they struggle to move on with their lives over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1228
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume42
Issue number7
Early online date10 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016

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