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Brides on Sale

Taiwanese Cross-Border Marriages in a Globalizing Asia

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Todd Sandel

Beginning in the 1990s large numbers of women from Mainland China and Southeast Asia married men in Taiwan. They now number over 400,000, warranting some to call them «Taiwan’s Fifth Ethnic Group». This book argues that the rise of these marriages is a gendered and relational phenomenon, linked to the forces of globalization. Traditional ideas of marriage, such as the belief that a woman «marries out» of her natal family to be dependent upon her husband and his family, and the idea that a man should «marry down» to a woman of a lesser social and economic status, have not kept pace with changes in women’s educational and career opportunities. How these relationships are formed, how they impact gendered understandings of women and men, how families are constituted and relationships developed, and how they affect the children of these families and their education, are the issues explored in this book. It breaks new ground in our understanding of transnational and cross-border marriages by looking at the long-term effects of such marriages on communities, families, and individuals.
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Chapter 1. The “Advertized” Foreign Bride: A Semiotic and Discourse Analysis

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THE “ADVERTIZED” FOREIGN BRIDE

A Semiotic and Discourse Analysis

One of these pervasive orientational necessities is surely the characterization of individual human beings. Peoples everywhere have developed symbolic structures in terms of which persons are perceived not baldly as such, as mere unadorned members of the human race, but as representatives of certain distinct categories of persons, specific sorts of individuals. (Geertz, 1973/2000, p. 363)

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