Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, International Studies, Texas A&M University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Emory University
Love in the Time of ‘Absentee Marriage’: Transnational Migration, Class and Gender in Urban Senegal

This project will use ethnographic methods to examine a trend of absentee marriages--that is, marriages between Senegalese migrant men living abroad and women residing in Senegal. In a distinctively middle class neighborhood of Dakar, where this research takes place, middle class urban women are increasingly choosing to marry international Senegalese migrants of rural origin. Through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and participant observation, I will examine how these marriages reflect or challenge modern marital values in urban Senegal, what they suggest about contemporary rural/urban dichotomies in the country, and their relation to a perceived rise in consumerism and changing gender ideologies in Dakar. Many wives of international migrants do not see their husbands for years at a time, and this project will investigate how marriages are conducted transnationally. I will seek to understand how intimacy is practiced in absentee marriages, the role of communication and money-transferring technologies in this process, and the extent to which this Senegalese case conforms to or challenges anthropological theories of a global trend towards companionate marriage. Its results will contribute to our understanding of how increased mobility and communication technology are shaping and are shaped by social practices around the world, as it investigates contemporary practices and meanings of marriage for men and women living in a highly transnational space.