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Outside the moral economy? Single female migrants and the changing Bangladeshi family

Rozario, Santi Theresa 2007. Outside the moral economy? Single female migrants and the changing Bangladeshi family. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 18 (2) , pp. 154-171. 10.1111/j.1835-9310.2007.tb00086.x

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Abstract

Unmarried female migrants, travelling overseas for work, form a small proportion of Bangladeshi overseas migrants. Their situation is anomalous and suspect, since unmarried women should remain at home under male protection and control. The stories of Dipti, a single woman who migrated to Australia in the 1980s, and of two other single women from her native village, demonstrate clearly some of the contradictions of these women's lives. Like other single female migrants I knew, Dipti retained close links to kin in Bangladesh, contributing significantly to the income of parents and siblings back home. Indeed, her constant and generous gift-giving can be understood as an attempt to counter her anomalous position and remain part of the moral economy of the village. However, Dipti's longing to remain part of an ‘ideal’ extended family conflicted with her relatives' desire for autonomy. This is because families in Bangladesh were themselves changing over this period, due to the intersection of the developmental cycles of domestic groups, dispositions towards the autonomy of children from their parents and each other, and through the economic pressures of contemporary Bangladeshi society, which provide a strong further impetus towards the financial autonomy of the nuclear family. These changes within the structure of their families result in alienating further these single female migrants. Thus, ultimately, both Dipti's attempts to maintain her extended family in Bangladesh and her efforts to recreate it in Australia were doomed to failure. The brief stories of the other two single women I use in the article are parallel to that of Dipti's.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISSN: 1035-8811
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:51
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/3839

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