Marriage Partner Preference

  • Jennifer A. Selby
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


This chapter turns more specifically to how notions of Islam, “tradition,” and femininity are woven through the narratives and the post migration lives of first-generation banlieusarde women. As we saw in chapter 2 , the physical conditions to which these women migrate in Petit Nanterre have shifted substantially. Chapters 3 and 4 charted the changing secular and feminist politics with which they engage. One demographic element, which, to my surprise, has not significantly altered, however, is the number of first-generation women who continue to marry local men in this banlieue . I had not intended to focus on this phenomenon in my research, yet within the first few weeks I spent volunteering with Nadha’s French language and integration courses, I was struck by the number of Maghrebi women who continually arrived to the banlieue through marriage migration to men living in the area. With few exceptions, these women make up the students of the Nadha French language and integration classes for primo-arrivées . Why had most of my first-generation respondents, of varying educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, migrated to France following this marriage pattern? French-born men of Maghrebian origin in this neighborhood typically prefer “traditional” North African wives to women born in France, even when local French-born women are Muslim or have North African origins.1


Social Comportment Muslim Woman French Language Forced Marriage Marriage Migration 
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© Jennifer A. Selby 2012

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  • Jennifer A. Selby

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