During the last two decades, in the North as well as in the global South, new forms of Muslim marriages, such as unregistered, visiting, or temporary marriages, have become the target of public debate. State authorities, religious scholars, women’s organisations, (neo-)nationalists, and parents express concern about youngsters, and especially young and not so young women, entering into such marriages. These new, unconventional marriages, or existing forms in new contexts, are often discursively linked to sexual exploitation and religious radicalisation. But how do those involved in these new marriage forms evaluate them?
This ethnographic project starts with an investigation of when and how these new marriages have become subject to public debate. The main empirical focus is on new marriage forms as social practices. What kinds of marriage forms and wedding celebration are emerging, who are participating in them, and how are they performed? Particular attention is paid to the intersections of gender and religion, and whether and how these new marriage forms are authenticated and authorized as Muslim marriages.
The wider question this project addresses is what economic, political, religious and cultural work these new Muslim marriages do. Neo-liberalism has turned livelihood increasingly precarious (linking the marriage crisis to that of the male provider), while neo-nationalism has solidified divides between in-groups and out-groups. What kinds of subjectivities and socialities do these new marriage forms produce? How do they shape economic relations, group boundaries, religious ethics, and cultural forms?
Fieldwork will be conducted in Europe, Kyrgyzstan, the Gulf, Indonesia, Lebanon and Morocco. These sites, linked through the circulation of persons, goods, and ideas, can be productively compared in terms of majority/minority positions, religious traditions, economic and migration histories, state-religion relations, gender structures, and cultural styles.