at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Bookshelf Spotlight: Marriage in Southeast Asia

Featured Books

* The Industry of Marrying Europeans
* Muslim-Non-Muslim Marriage: Political and Cultural Contestations in Southeast Asia
* Cross-Border Marriages: Gender and Mobility in Transnational Asia
* A Baba Wedding
* Changing Marriage Patterns in Southeast Asia: Economic and Socio-Cultural Dimensions
* Women Of The Kakawin World: Marriage And Sexuality In The Indic Courts Of Java And Bali

The Industry of Marrying Europeans

by Vu Trong Phung, translated by Thuy Tranviet
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2006

This work by Vu Trong Phung, written in the 1930s, reports and expands on the author’s meetings with North Vietnamese women who had made an “industry” of marrying European men. The Industry of Marrying Europeans is notable for its sharp observations, pointed humor, and unconventional mix of nonfictional and fictional narration, as well as its attention to voice: Vu Trong Phung records the French-Vietnamese pidgin dialect spoken by these couples. This prolific writer died at age twenty-seven, leaving behind one of the most impressive bodies of work in modern Vietnamese literature.

Cornell Press | Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books

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Muslim-Non-Muslim Marriage: Political and Cultural Contestations in Southeast Asia

Edited by Gavin W. Jones, Chee Heng Leng and Maznah Mohamad
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009

“This is an excellent and rare exploration of a sensitive religious issue from many perspectives legal, cultural and political. The case studies from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand portray the important and exciting, yet very difficult, negotiation of Islamic teachings in the changing realities of Southeast Asia, home to the majority of Muslims in the world. Interreligious marriage is an important indicator of good relations between communities in religiously diverse countries. This book will also be of great interest to students and scholars of religious pluralism in a Southeast Asian context, which has not been studied adequately.” – Zainal Abidin Bagir, Executive Director, Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia

“The issue of Muslim-non-Muslim marriages has different connotations in the different Southeast Asian states. For example, in Thailand it is more a fluid cultural issue but in Malaysia it reflects great racial schisms with severe legal implications. This book is a welcome one as it examines the issue not only from the perspectives of various Southeast Asian nations but also from so many angles; the legal, historical, social, cultural, anthropological and philosophical. The work is scholarly, yet accessible. Underlying it, there is a vital streak of humanism.” – Azmi Sharom, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Malaya

ISEAS Books | Goodreads | Google Books

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Cross-Border Marriages: Gender and Mobility in Transnational Asia

Edited by Nicole Constable
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004

Illuminating how international marriages are negotiated, arranged, and experienced, Cross-Border Marriages is the first book to chart marital migrations involving women and men of diverse national, ethnic, and class backgrounds. The migrations studied here cross geographical borders of provinces, rural-urban borders within nation-states, and international boundaries, including those of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, the United States, and Canada. Looking at assumptions about the connection between international marriages and poverty, opportunism, and women’s mobility, the book draws attention to ideas about global patterns of inequality that are thought to pressure poor women to emigrate to richer countries, while simultaneously suggesting the limitations of such views.

Breaking from studies that regard the international bride as a victim of circumstance and the mechanisms of international marriage as traffic in commodified women, these essays challenge any simple idea of global hypergamy and present a nuanced understanding where a variety of factors, not the least of which is desire, come into play. Indeed, most contemporary marriage-scapes involve women who relocate in order to marry; rarely is it the men. But Nicole Constable and the volume contributors demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, these brides are not necessarily poor, nor do they categorically marry men who are above them on the socioeconomic ladder.

Although often women may appear to be moving “up” from a less developed country to a more developed one, they do not necessarily move higher on the chain of economic resources. Complicating these and other assumptions about international marriages, the essays in this volume draw from interviews and rich ethnographic materials to examine women’s and men’s agency, their motivations for marriage, and the importance of familial pressures and obligations, cultural imaginings, fantasies, and desires, in addition to personal and economic factors.

Border-crossing marriages are significant for what they reveal about the intersection of local and global processes in the everyday lives of women and men whose marital opportunities variably yield both rich possibilities and bitter disappointments.

University of Pennsylvania Press| Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books

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A Baba Wedding

By Cheo Kim Ban
Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2009

The text takes the reader systematically through the wedding of Babas to Nyonyas in full traditional style. Beginning with the matchmaking process and ending with post-nuptial parties, Cheo Kim Ban discusses the significance and beauty of each ritual, highlighting the symbolism behind the paraphernalia used. The author also traces, wherever relevant, the ‘local’ influences which colour the original Chinese beliefs to make the unique cultural heritage of a wedding in the Baba community. Well researched and containing a stunning collection of photographs taken at an actual Malaccan Baba wedding, this volume is a tribute to his heritage from a true son of Malacca.

Goodreads | Amazon | Reader Store

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Changing Marriage Patterns in Southeast Asia: Economic and Socio-Cultural Dimensions

Edited by Gavin W. Jones, Terence H. Hull and Maznah Mohamad
Routledge, 2011

Various forms of partnering – such as officially registered marriages, cohabiting relationships, and other kinds of relatively stable relationships – are crucial in the formation of families throughout the world. Although, today, forms of partnering in the region are not restricted to formal marriage, the norm remains for couples to marry – to establish a new family, and to accept the cultural requirement to have children.

This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of partnerships and marriage in the Southeast Asian region using quantitative data alongside qualitative approaches.Through the research of demographers, sociologists and anthropologists, it examines the way trends in the formation and dissolution of marriages are related to changes in the region’s economy and society; illuminating both the broad forces affecting marriage patterns and the way these forces work out at the individual and family level.

Presenting the variety of contemporary marriage patterns in the region, with an emphasis on the ways in which marriage issues impinge on the welfare of those concerned, this book will be essential reading for students and scholars of Southeast Asia and the sociology of the family.

Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books | New Asia Books

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Women Of The Kakawin World: Marriage And Sexuality In The Indic Courts Of Java And Bali

By Helen Creese
M.E. Sharpe, 2004

In this fascinating study the lives and mores of women in one of the least understood but most densely populated areas of the world are unveiled through the eyes of generations of court poets. For more than a millennium, the poets of the Indic courts of Java and Bali composed epic kakawin poems in which they recreated the court environment where they and their royal patrons lived. Major themes in this poetry form include war, love, and marriage. It is a rich source for the cultural and social history of Indonesia. Still being produced in Bali today, kakawin remain of interest and relevance to Balinese cultural and religious identities.

This book draws on the epic kakawin poetry tradition to examine the institutions of courtship and marriage in the Indic courts. Its primary purpose is to explore the experiences of women belonging to the kakawin world, although the texts by nature reveal more about the discourses concerning women, sexuality, and gender than of the historical experiences of individual women.

For over a thousand years these royal courts were major patrons of the arts. The court-sponsored epic works that have survived provide an ongoing literary testimony to the cultural and social concerns of court society from its earliest recorded history until its demise at the end of the nineteenth century. This study examines the idealized images of women and sexuality that have pervaded Javanese and Balinese culture and provides insights into a number of cultural practices.

M.E. Sharpe |Goodreads | Amazon | Google Books

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