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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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A Note on Translations


Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese (Hokkien), and Hakka are tonal languages with regional variants. These are represented using both Chinese characters and Romanization systems. Following standard practice, I have chosen to represent spoken Mandarin with Pinyin, absent tonal marks, and in most cases provide Chinese characters. Likewise, Taiwanese utterances are presented using the “Church Romanization” system, minus tonal marks that was developed in the nineteenth century by foreign missionaries and is currently used in publications by Taiwan’s Presbyterian Church. Hakka utterances, however, were transcribed using Chinese characters, that I have translated into English. Similarly, Indonesian dialogue has been translated into English, with assistance from Anastasia Lijadi who knows both languages well. Those interested in seeing dialogue in the original languages may contact me.

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