Taiwanese Cross-Border Marriages in a Globalizing Asia
Chapter 3. What It Means to Be a “Foreign Spouse”: Gendered Understandings
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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A “FOREIGN SPOUSE”
From 1994 to 2012, of nearly 3 million registered marriages in Taiwan, more than half a million, or 16 percent, involved a spouse from either China or a foreign country (See Table 3). Taiwan’s foreign spouse population, however, is not exclusively female. Since 1998 when Taiwan’s Ministry of Interior began keeping detailed information on the national origin of both female and male foreign spouses, more than 50 thousand (2.4 percent) registered marriages involved a Taiwanese female and male spouse from either China or another foreign country (Ministry of Interior, 2014). Nearly half of these foreign-born men, approximately 20,000, came from more “advanced” countries such as Europe, North America, or Japan. Most possessed advanced education and/or technical skills. Yet while foreign-born women and men differ in many respects, they share in the activities that make it evident that they are “spouses,” “family members,” and if they have children, mothers or fathers. And because they are foreign—marked often by physical appearance (e.g., skin color, body type, language, accent, or some other quality), this presentation of the self may lead others to treat them as a “different” sort of person.
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