1st Edition

Cross-Border Marriages State Categories, Research Agendas and Family Practices

    Marriages that involve the migration of at least one of the spouses challenge two intersecting facets of the politics of belonging: the making of the 'good and legitimate citizens' and the 'acceptable family'. In Europe, cross-border marriages have been the target of increasing state controls, an issue of public concern and the object of scholarly research. The study of cross-border marriages and the ways these marriages are framed is inevitably affected by states' concerns and priorities. There is a need for a reflexive assessment of how the categories employed by state institutions and agents have impacted the study of cross-border marriages. This collection of essays analyses what is at stake in the regulation of cross-border marriages and how European states use particular categories (e.g., 'sham', 'forced' and 'mixed' marriages) to differentiate between acceptable and non-acceptable marriages. When researchers use these categories unreflexively, they risk reproducing nation-centred epistemologies and reinforcing state-informed hierarchies and forms of exclusion. The chapters in this book offer new insights into a timely topic and suggest ways to avoid these pitfalls: differentiating between categories of analysis and categories of practice, adopting methodologies that do not mirror nation-states' logic and engaging with general social theory outside migration studies. This book will be of interest to researchers and academics of Sociology, Politics, International Relations, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Human Geography, Social Work, and Public Policy. Barring one, all the chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    1. Introduction—Contesting categories of cross-border marriages: perspectives of the state, spouses and researchers 

    Joëlle Moret, Janine Dahinden and Apostolos Andrikopoulos 

    2. Love, money and papers in the affective circuits of cross-border marriages: beyond the ‘sham’/‘genuine’ dichotomy 

    Apostolos Andrikopoulos 

    3. Marrying ‘in’/marrying ‘out’? Blurred boundaries in British Pakistani marriage choices 

    Katharine Charsley and Marta Bolognani 

    4. ‘(Im-)proper’ members with ‘(im-)proper’ families? – Framing spousal migration policies in Germany

    Laura Block 

    5. When men migrate for marriage: negotiating partnerships and gender roles in cross-border marriages between rural Kosovo and the EU 

    Carolin Leutloff-Grandits 

    6. Alternative spatial hierarchies: a cross-border spouse’s positioning strategies in the face of Germany’s ‘pre-integration’ language test 

    Shpresa Jashari, Janine Dahinden and Joëlle Moret 

    7. Class, mobility and inequality in the lives of same-sex couples with mixed legal statuses 

    Sébastien Chauvin, Manuela Salcedo Robledo, Timo Koren and Joël Illidge 

    8. Subversive citizens: using EU free movement law to bypass the UK’s rules on marriage migration 

    Helena Wray, Eleonore Kofman and Agnes Simic 

    9. Buy me love: entanglements of citizenship, income and emotions in regulating marriage migration 

    Saara Pellander 

    10. The reconfiguration of European boundaries and borders: cross-border marriages from the perspective of spouses in Sri Lanka   

    Janine Dahinden, Shpresa Jashari and Joëlle Moret 


    Apostolos Andrikopoulos is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge, USA, and at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is author of Argonauts of West Africa. His current project “Marriage, Migration and Sexuality” has received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

    Joëlle Moret is Equality and Diversity Officer at the City of Lausanne, Switzerland. She completed a PhD in Social Sciences at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where she afterwards worked as Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer. She is the author of European Somalis’ Post-Migration Movements.

    Janine Dahinden is Professor of Transnational Studies at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. She is interested in understanding processes of migration, mobility, transnationalisation and boundary making, and their concomitant production of inequalities linked to ethnicity, race, class, religion and gender.