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Brides on Sale

Taiwanese Cross-Border Marriages in a Globalizing Asia


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 2. Historical and Contemporary Marriage Arrangements


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From 1994 until 2012, of nearly 3 million registered marriages in Taiwan, nearly half a million, or approximately 16 percent, involved a Taiwanese man and a foreign-born spouse from China, Southeast Asia, or other nations. (See Table 1) Many of these marriages—the aggregate number is unknown—were arranged via the services of professional, for-profit marriage brokers. Many others, however, were arranged through personal connections, such as a Vietnamese woman introducing her sister to marry a man in Taiwan; others occurred when women from other countries came on work or student visas to Taiwan, met and then later married the man they met; likewise, some Taiwanese men who traveled to other places for work, such as China or Indonesia, married a woman they met there. While the paths to marriage are varied and multiple, the outcome is that marriage migration to Taiwan has resulted in the presence of a large and visible population of foreign born female spouses, marked and referenced by the newly created term, the “waiji xinniang” 外籍新娘 or “foreign-national bride.” Uncovering and understanding the reasons for this type of marriage, the adjustment and communicative issues faced by such women, their children, and family members, the impact upon the communities they entered, and the communities that they left, is the focus of this book. ← 55 | 56 →

While migration that results in the mixing of individuals and groups of differing cultural patterning has happened across...

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