Studying Marriage Migration to Europe from Below: Informal Practices of Government, Border Struggles and Multiple Entanglements

Scheel, Stephan and Gutekunst, Miriam. 2019. Studying Marriage Migration to Europe from Below: Informal Practices of Government, Border Struggles and Multiple Entanglements. Gender, Place and Culture, 26(6), pp. 847-867. ISSN 0966-369X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The growing importance of marriage as a migration strategy has been accompanied by the increased problematisation and regulation of marriages between binational couples. In this article we propose an analytical framework for the study of marriage migration that permits to transcend three tendencies and related limitations of the existing literature. While offering rich insights into marriage migration and its government, the existing body of literature as a whole is, nevertheless, characterised by an implementation gap bias, a control bias and a destination country bias. To counter these tendencies and related analytical limitations we propose a framework that ethnographically studies binational couples’ embodied encounters with state authorities in countries of destination and citizenship with a particular focus on binational couples’ struggles for visas, resident permits and a right to family life. This approach highlights how the regulation of marriage migration is constitutive of differentiations and discriminations along intersecting lines of class, race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and so forth. In brief, it allows to show how ‘doing border’ is intertwined with ‘doing gender’. Illustrated through ethnographic research, we show that this methodology permits to expose three aspects of marriage migration that have not been sufficiently considered so far. These include the securitization of marriage migration ‘from below’ and the establishment of informal hierarchies of desirability through informal practices of government, binational couples’ capacity to negotiate restrictive legislations and bureaucratic hurdles and, finally, the multiple entanglements of binational couples in the border and citizenship regimes of two or more nation-state orders.

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Autonomy of migration, destination country bias, marriage migration, policy implementation, securitization, visa policy

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19 December 2017Accepted
25 January 2019Published Online

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Date Deposited:

03 Jan 2018 11:55

Last Modified:

25 Jan 2020 02:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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