The control of 'mixed' marriage and racialised boundaries in France
Hélène Neveu Kringelbach
(University College London)
Paper short abstract:
In recent years a discourse of suspicion of binational marriages has developed in France, alongside increasing control of marriage migration. This paper examines the role played by both discourse and procedures in reviving racialised boundaries, as well as their impact on intimate and family lives.
Paper long abstract:
The control of marriage migration has become increasingly restrictive since the early 2000s, including ever more onerous procedures for non-European Union spouses applying for residency. Binational couples involving spouses from Africa and Asia, in particular, are likely to be suspected of fraud and to be subjected to lengthy enquiries into the nature of their relationship. In the process, they are often forced to stage their relationship as being in accordance with ideals of romantic love not usually expected of other marriages. The public discourse on sham marriage which has developed in France and other EU nations in recent years is racialised in particular ways in France, and serves to legitimize these procedures. In reality, both discourse and practices of control are rooted in older, colonial fears of racial and class-based mixedness. But how do people themselves experience state attempts to racialise France's internal boundaries, and to push them deeper into their intimate lives? How does the control of binational marriage shape definition of mixedness, as well as ideas of what constitutes 'good' marriage and appropriate family practices? In addressing these questions, this paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork with binational couples in France and in Senegal and with a civic association in France, as well as on a small number of interviews with French state agents.
Moving across racialised boundaries - settling in mixedness? Dialogues in critical mixedness studies [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]