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Accepted Paper:

Projects and power: marriage games among Muslims in South India  


Saidalavi P.C. (Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

Muslim barbers in South India follow schemes for marriages ranging from arranged within the endogamous group, to outside the group which may fail or succeed and love marriages. Attending to these nuances, I argue that these individuals make their choices within multifarious structural conditions.

Paper long abstract:

This article argues that individuals make choices within a range of structural conditions that constrict and enable their actions. I illustrate this with an ethnographic case study from Malabar, South India. Muslim barbers in Malabar are considered socially inferior by other Muslim groups. As a result, their marriages mostly get restricted to within the group. With secular education, employment and economic improvements due to migration to the countries in the Middle East, many have improved their standard of living and ownership of resources. Some, particularly those with secular education and employment have been able to marry outside the group either through arrangements or through love. Those who acquired religious education have failed in their attempts to arrange alliances outside the group. Those who are still following the tradition of barbering are mostly unsuccessful in marrying a non-barber. Detailing the nuances of these schemes, I argue against the assumption to equate economic improvements with egalitarian social relations. Many scholars in South Asia posit that class supersedes caste in contemporary India with lower classes acquiring education and employment. But such claims largely neglect the constraints within which everyday life plays out for an individual.

Panel Inte05b
Marriage in the Global South: youth between love, rules, and desires II