Moving for Marriage

Inequalities, Intimacy, and Women's Lives in Rural North India

By Shruti Chaudhry

Subjects: Sociology, Women's Studies, Asian Studies, Geography, Anthropology
Series: SUNY series, Genders in the Global South
Hardcover : 9781438485577, 313 pages, October 2021
Paperback : 9781438485584, 313 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


Part I: Contextualizing Marriage in Rural North India

1. Making a Regional Marriage

2. A Compulsory Marriage? Contextualizing Cross-Regional Marriage and Bachelorhood

3. Making a Cross-Regional Marriage

Part II: Post-Marital Lived Experiences

4. Life in the Sasural

5. Husbands

6. Children and Other Women

7. Natal Kin


Appendix 1: Castes in Barampur

Appendix 2: Village Survey Questionnaire

Appendix 3: Details of Cross-Regional Bride and Regional Bride Informants

Appendix 4: Details of Informants for Structured Interviews


Comparative, ethnographic study of women who migrate for marriage in rural north India.


Shortlisted for the 2023 BASAS Book Prize presented by British Association for South Asian Studies

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Moving for Marriage compares the lived experiences of women in "regional" marriages (that conform to caste and community norms within a relatively short distance) with women in "cross-regional" marriages (that traverse caste, linguistic, and state boundaries and entail long-distance migration within India). By demonstrating how geographic distance and regional origins make a difference in these women's experiences, Shruti Chaudhry challenges stereotypes and moral panics about cross-regional brides who are brought from far away. Indeed, Moving for Marriage highlights the ways in which the post-marital experiences of both categories of wives in this study—their work and social relationships, their sexual lives and childbearing decisions, and their ability to access support in everyday contexts and in the event of marital distress—are shaped by factors such as caste, class/poverty, religion, and stage in the life-course. In focusing on this Global South context, Chaudhry makes novel arguments about the development of intimacy within marriages that are inherently unequal and even violent, thereby offering an alternative to Euro-American understandings of intimacy and women's agency.

Shruti Chaudhry is British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


"…Chaudhry's book succeeds in painstakingly describing the worldview of a village in Uttar Pradesh, shedding new light on issues of marriage in rural North India, as well as contributing to more global anthropological debates on the intersections between gender, marriage, and migration." — Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"…a significant contribution to the literature on gender, marriage and migration in India. Written as a highly readable text this would interest not only undergraduate and graduate students in sociology, anthropology, kinship, migration and gender studies but also anyone who wants to explore questions of marriage, migration and intimacy." — Journal of South Asian Development

"…this book is a critical and comprehensive study of compulsory heterosexual marriage—hint: there are no winners here, but some lose more. Chaudhry presents not just 'another case' from the Global South, but rich empirical material from a particular rural lifeworld that pushes the boundaries of how we understand coercion and intimacy for all women … [it] is welcome and important reading." — Gender & Society

"While this ethnography was conducted in India, Chaudhry's findings have applicability to our understanding of the more widespread phenomenon of 'foreign' brides being brought by better-off men from poorer parts of their own country or from less prosperous countries elsewhere in the world. Though the trend is not new, it has increased significantly with globalization in recent decades and has therefore attracted considerable scholarly interest. Thus, this book contributes not only to the field of South Asian studies but also to the much larger field of the study of gender and marriage migration in the entire modern world." — Sylvia Vatuk, author of Marriage and Its Discontents: Women, Islam, and the Law in India