Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War
University of Washington Press 2019
Sidharthan Maunaguru’s Marrying for a Future: Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War (University of Washington Press 2019) is an unusual ethnography of the ‘in-betweenness’ and ‘potential’ of marriage in the time of political violence and conflict. Maunaguru sketches for us the journeys and scenes of transnational Sri Lankan Tamil marriage between Sri Lanka, India, the United Kingdom and Canada during the ‘wedding season’ and the lives of those involved in making it happen across time and space. Marriage brokers, relatives and friends, astrologers and priests, wedding photographers and immigration lawyers enact different kinds of possibilities for those seeking to ‘marry for a future’. The fragmented communities from the civil war between the Sri Lankan state and the Tamil militants strive to recreate the communities, rituals and relatedness which is now dispersed across the globe. Maunaguru takes the readers through the offices of the wedding brokers, the guest houses where weddings are celebrated, the archives of colonial law on marriage, the immigration cases and documents of refusal and redress where this striving occurs – first to be united in marriage and then to be reunited as a couple and family.
Listen to Maunaguru talk about living with hope in shadow of conflict, the trouble with the dichotomy between ‘arranged marriage’ and ‘love marriage’ and the authority of the ‘modern wedding album’ in the global immigration regime. This is one of the most significant contributions to the anthropological study of migration, mobility, diaspora and kinship.
Bhoomika Joshi is a doctoral student in the department of anthropology at Yale University.