The Global Purchase of Intimacy: Voices of Women in Transnational Marriage Migration

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
402 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Julie S Kim, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
As transnationally brokered marriages proliferate, scholars have called for approaches that use more empirical data to understand the complex interplay between economy and intimacy. Investigating the concrete experiences of women in transnationally brokered marriages reveals that although some of these marriages have been portrayed in more opportunistic light, they involve constant negotiations of differentiated ties, like all intimate relationships. Through a connected lives approach, this study explores how brokered marriages can be lasting and even successful. 31 in-depth interviews with transnationally married women in South Korea reveal that women’s social and economic ties and the shifting of those ties complexly impact marriage decisions and experiences. Despite concerns surrounding the brokers and payments commonly involved in the marriage, this study finds that payments in formal brokering services do not necessarily contaminate the marriage. Challenges that women encounter are not particular to the group as they are similar to the hurdles that newlyweds or migrants face. Therefore, we need more nuanced discussions of the ways in which economic considerations inflect all of our intimate relationships.