Working Mis/Understandings: The Tangled Relationship between Kinship, Franco-Malagasy Binational Marriages, and the French State: Supplemental Material

This post builds on the research article “Working Mis/Understandings: The Tangled Relationship between Kinship, Franco-Malagasy Binational Marriages, and the French State,” which was published in the August 2014 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.

House entering ceremony, Vohemar, Madagascar, 2012.

Editorial Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published a number of articles on the politics of immigration, including Didier Fassin’s “Compassion and Repression: The Moral Economy of Immigration Policies in France” (2005); Elizabeth L. Krause’s “‘Empty Cradles’ and the Quiet Revolution: Demographic Discourse and Cultural Struggles of Gender, Race, and Class in Italy” (2001); and Dorothee Schneider’s “‘I Know All about Emma Lazarus’: Nationalism and Its Contradictions in Congressional Rhetoric of Immigation” (1998).

Cultural Anthropology has also published articles on marriage across lines of difference, including Lieba Faier’s “Runaway Stories: The Underground Micromovements of Filipina Oyomesan in Rural Japan” (2008); and Damani James Partridge’s “We were Dancing in the Club, Not on the Berlin Wall: Black Bodies, Street Bureaucrats, and Exclusionary Incorporation into the New Europe” (2008).

About the Author

The author, Sambava Distrct, Madagascar, 2012.

Jennifer Coles’s work examines how personal change and individual development shape, and are shaped by, broader political, economic and cultural transformations: the unruly terrain where person and history meet. Her research focuses on Madagascar and the legacy of its colonial and now post-colonial encounter with France, and Cole’s writing addresses such topics as memory and forgetting, youth and generational change, gender, sexuality and transnational kinship.

Cole is currently working on a monograph that follows Malagasy women who migrate to France and marry French men, founding transnational families in the process. Set against a backdrop of tightening immigration laws and increased xenophobia, it investigates the complex ways these marriage migrants participate in new patterns of belonging as well as new kinds of exclusion in rural areas of France. She is also currently completing an edited volume with Christian Groes-Green that addresses the issue of African migrants in Europe, and particularly the intersection between state regulatory policies and migrants’ efforts to build affective circuits linking them to home.

For more information on Professor Coles’s research, see her faculty webpage.

Southwestern French countryside.

Other Works by the Author

2014. “Producing Value among Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France: Managing Horizons of Expectation.” Current Anthropology 55, S9: S85–S94.

2014. “The Téléphone Malgache: Transnational Gossip and Social Transformation among Malagasy Marriage Migrants in France.” American Ethnologist 41, no. 2: 276–89.

2010. Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2009. Love in Africa, edited with Lynn Thomas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2008. Figuring the Future: Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth, edited with Deborah Durham. Santa Fe, N.M: School for Advanced Research Press.

2008. “Et Plus Si Affinités’: Malagasy Marriage, Shifting Post-Colonial Hierarchies, and Policing New Boundaries.” Historical Reflections 34, no. 1: 26–49.

2007. Generations and Globalization: Youth, Age, and Family in the New World Economy, edited with Deborah Durham. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

2001. Forget Colonialism? Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Vineyard in Southwestern France.

Related Readings

Constable, Nicole. 2003. Romance on a Global Stage Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and ‘Mail Order” Marriages.” Berkeley: University of California Press.

Constable, Nicole, ed. 2005. Cross-Border Marriage: Gender and Mobility in Transnationa Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

D'Aoust, Anne-Marie. 2013. “In the Name of Love: Marriage Migration, Governmentality and Technologies of Love.” International Political Sociology 7, no. 3: 258–74.

Eggebø, Helga. 2012. “‘With a Heavy Heart’: Ethics, Emotions and Rationality in Norwegian Immigration Administration.” Sociology 47, no. 2: 301–317.

Faier, Leiba. 2007. “Filipina Migrants in Rural Japan and their Professions of Love.” American Ethnologist 33, no. 1: 148–62.

Faier, Leiba. 2009. Intimate Encounters: Filipina Migrants and the Remaking of Rural Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fassin, Eric. 2010. “National Identities and Transnational Intimacies: Sexual Democracy and the Politics of Immigration in Europe.” Public Culture 22, no. 3: 507–29.

Fernandez, Nadine T. 2013. “Moral Boundaries and National Borders: Cuban Marriage Migration to Denmark.” Identities 20, no. 3: 270–87.

Freeman, Caren. 2011. Making and Faking Kinship: Marriage and Labor Migration Between China and South Korea. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Groes-Green, Christian. 2014. “Journeys of Patronage: Moral Economies of Transactional Sex, Kinship, and Female Migration from Mozambique to Europe.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20, no. 2: 237–55.

Maskens, Maïté. 2013. “Mariages et migrations: Régulations étatiques et migrations de mariage (Belgique, France, Suisse et Italie).” Coordination du dossier thématique, “Mariages et migrations : L’amour et ses frontières,” Migrations Société, 25, no. 150: 43–60.

Neveu Kringelbach, Hélène. 2013. “‘Mixed Marriage,’ Citizenship and the Policing of Intimacy in Contemporary France.” IMI Working Paper 77, International Migration Institute, Oxford University.

Piper, Nicola and Mina Roces, eds. 2003. Wife or Worker?: Asian Women and Migration. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.

Robledo, Manuela Salcedo. 2011. “Bleu, blanc, gris . . . la couleur des mariages.” L'Espace Politique, no. 13.

Rytter, Mikkel. 2010. “‘The Family of Denmark’ and ‘the Aliens’: Kinship Images in Danish Integration Politics.” Ethnos 75, no. 3: 301–22.

Wray, Helena. 2011. Regulating Marriage Migration in the UK: A Stranger in the Home. Surrey: Ashgate.

Additional Resources

Amoureux Au Ban Public is a non-profit association that was first created by the legal scholar Nicholas Ferran, under the auspices of La Cimade, France’s oldest association devoted to helping immigrants and refugees. Founded in 2007, in response to the French administration’s increasing efforts to police binational marriage, Les Amoureux defends the rights of binational couples to family life. The group offers free legal advice as well as seeking to educate the broader public about the predicaments of binational couples and the harmful effects of recent legislation.

Amoureux Au Ban Public logo.

The name les Amoureux Au Ban Public is a play on two French expressions: the first “etre mise au ban de quelque chose” means “to be excluded from,” while the second, “Les amoureux des bancs publics” is a reference to the George Brassens song and literally means “The Lovers on the Public Benches.”

Protest against Hortefeux's law, February 14, 2008. Préfecture de Bobigny.

Given the current climate of racism and xenophobia, Les Amoureux Au Ban Public has created a participatory website that permits French binational couples and families to make their voices heard. The idea is simply to let the wider French public, in particular, know that “we live our lives here, in France, and we want our choices, our rights, and especially our right to private life to be respected”:

Alors que le climat ambiant est nauséabond, que le racisme et le rejet de l’autre fédèrent, nous avons voulu lancer ce site participatif pour permettre aux couples et familles binationales de faire entendre leur voix et de dire simplement: Nous vivons notre vie ici, en France, et nous voulons pouvoir le faire dans le respect de nos choix, de nos droits, de notre vie privée, et de notre intimité.

Groupe d’Information et de Soutien des Immigrés (Gisti) is a non-profit association devoted to gathering legal information related to migrant’s rights. The group publishes up-to-date information related to French immigration law and offers free legal aid to immigrants and those seeking asylum.