Transborder Brides: Female Migration and Transnational Homemaking

By Sohyun Lee.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

International marriage is one of the fundamental motives for migration, thus its process becomes the locus of complex interaction among social, cultural, political, and economical negotiations. Moreover, considering women’s tendency to marry socially up, there have been studies on how women of lower-income countries seek spouses from wealthier countries. From this standpoint, transnational marriages may easily be seen as a market –the marriage market-, and women may be victimized as commodities for male transaction. On the other hand, also is considerable the literature on the active role of “femina migrans”, arguing for female agency in migration processes. Here I study this ambiguous process through a critical analysis of the documentary Cowboy del amor (Michele Ohayon, 2005), which portrays various cases of transnational marriage at the U.S.-Mexico border as the camera follows Ivan Thompson, a transborder matchmaker in search for the perfect Mexican bride for the average American man. The cinematic text offers a good treatment of the numerous stages involved in “contractual” international marriages, proposing alternative ways of approaching, practicing, and understanding transnational marriages in the U.S.-Mexico border region. The multiple layers of negotiations, transactions, and mutual adjustments make transnational homemaking a complex task where static conception of clearly divided borders become fluid, and conventional binary structures of passive victim/active aggressor become obsolete, therefore suggesting plausible intercultural marriage models transferrable to other transnational contexts.

Keywords: U.S.-Mexico Border, International Marriage, Transnational Homemaking, Femina Migrans, Cultural Representation

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.39-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 568.889KB).

Sohyun Lee

Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Hispanic Studies, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Sohyun Lee received her PhD in Hispanic Studies from the University of Arizona. Considering the location of Texas as a state bordering with Mexico, her areas of interest include cultural representation and identity politics at the border region, as well as women studies in the transnational context.


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