Vol 29 No 3 (2014)
Borders of Belonging
By Jennifer Cole
Marriage migration and family reunification have become one of the few ways for migrants from former French colonies to gain legal entry to France. As a result, love, marriage, and kinship have become central to the politics of contemporary border control. Based on extensive research with Franco-Malagasy families in southwestern France, this article examines how couples negotiate the complexities of their binational relationships in the context of state-fostered xenophobia and suspicion. I suggest the analytic of a working mis/understanding to capture how these marriages operate. While at one level the working mis/understanding enables Malagasy women and French men to bridge their different notions of kinship, at another level it naturalizes a long-standing colonial relationship between France and Madagascar. I further consider how the sociocultural dynamics of the working mis/understanding illuminate how state regulations produce the commodification of intimate relations allegedly intrinsic to these marriages.
marriage; citizenship; politics of immigration; working misunderstanding; kinship; France; Madagascar