Womanhood Implies Travel: Punjabi Marriage Migration Between India and Britain

  • Kaveri Qureshi
  • Ben Rogaly
Part of the International Handbooks of Population book series (IHOP, volume 8)


There are long-standing assumptions in migration theory about the scales of mobility that matter, privileging long-distance or cross-border over short-distance or internal migration, as well as tendencies to identify migration with the properly economic. Challenging these assumptions, feminist scholars have argued that they efface significant forms of gendered mobility. This chapter focuses directly on women’s experiences of marriage-related mobilities. Moreover, we treat international and internal migration within the same frame. The context is the half-million strong population of Punjabi Sikhs in Britain, the largest ethno-religious community among the 1.4 million Indians living in the country. Punjabi Sikhs contribute one of the largest streams of cross-border spousal migrant settlement into Britain, although the prevailing pattern for Punjabi Sikhs is for marriages to take place between two people born and raised in Britain, and far less is known about such internal marriage migration. Here, drawing from the ‘translocalism’ tradition, which focuses on connections sustained across locales irrespective of whether these cross national borders, we explore the parallels and differences in women’s marriage-related international and internal migration, and consider what it is about migration that matters to the people who engage in it.


  1. Abraham, M. (2008). Domestic violence and the Indian diaspora in the United States. In R. Palriwala & P. Uberoi (Eds.), Marriage, migration and gender (pp. 303–325). New Delhi: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agnihotri, I., Mazumdar, I., & Neetha, N. (2012). Gender and migration: Negotiating rights. New Delhi: Centre for Women’s Development Studies.Google Scholar
  3. Bale, T., & Hampshire, J. (2012). Immigration policy. In T. Heppell & D. Seawright (Eds.), Cameron and the conservatives: The transition to coalition government (pp. 89–104). London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ballard, R. (1990). Migration and kinship: The differential effect of marriage rules on the processes of Punjabi migration to Britain. In C. Clarke, C. Peach, & S. Vertovec (Eds.), South Asians overseas (pp. 219–249). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bradby, H. (1999). Negotiating marriage: Young Punjabi women’s assessment of their individual and family interests. In R. Barot, H. Bradley, & S. Fenton (Eds.), Ethnicity, gender and social change (pp. 152–166). Basingstoke: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradby, H. (2000). Locality, loyalty and identity: Experiences of travel and marriage among young Punjabi women in Glasgow. In S. Clift & S. Carter (Eds.), Tourism and sex: Culture, commerce and coercion (pp. 236–249). London: Cassells.Google Scholar
  7. Brickell, K., & Datta, A. (Eds.). (2011). Translocal geographies: Spaces, places, connections. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  8. Charsley, K., Storer-Church, B., Benson, M., & Hear, N. (2012). Marriage-related migration to the UK. International Migration Review, 46(4), 861–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charsley, K., Bolognani, M., Spencer, S., Jayaweera, H., & Ersanilli, E. (2016). Marriage migration and integration. Bristol: University of Bristol.Google Scholar
  10. Chaudhry, S. (2016). Lived experiences of marriage: Regional and cross-regional brides in rural North India. Unpublished PhD thesis. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  11. Chaudhry, S. (2017). Now it is difficult to get married: Contextualising cross-regional marriage and bachelorhood in a North Indian village. In S. Srinivasan & S. Li (Eds.), Scarce women and surplus men in India and China: Macro demographics versus local dynamics. (pp. in press. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Chaudhry, S. (2018). For how long can your Pīharwāle Intervene?: Accessing natal kin support in rural north India. Modern Asian Studies, in press.Google Scholar
  13. Constable, N. (2005). Introduction: Cross-border marriages, gendered mobility and global hypergamy. In N. Constable (Ed.), Cross-border marriages: Gender and mobility in transnational Asia (pp. 1–16). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  14. Datta, A. (2013). Diaspora and transnationalism in urban studies. In A. Quayson & G. Daswani (Eds.), A companion to diaspora and transnationalism (pp. 88–105). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donato, K., Gabaccia, D., Holdaway, J., Manalasan, M., & Pessar, P. (2006). A glass half full? Gender in migration studies. International Migration Review, 40(1), 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dyson, T., & Moore, M. (1983). On kinship structure, female autonomy and demographic behaviour in India. Population and Development Review, 9(1), 35–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Erel, U. (2011). Complex belongings: Racialization and migration in a small English city. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34(11), 2048–2068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ersanilli, E., & Charsley, K. (2015). Looking for a good match? A comparison of transnational and intra-national couples in the UK Pakistani and Sikh communities. Paper presented at the Marriage Migration and Integration, University of Oxford, 1 July.Google Scholar
  19. Ghuman, P. A. S. (1980). Bhatra Sikhs in Cardiff: Family and kinship organisation. New Community, 8, 308–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grover, S. (2011). Marriage, love, caste and kinship support: Lived experiences of the urban poor in India. New Delhi: Social Science Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hastir, R. (2016). Transforming homelands: Transnational Punjabi migrants and their links with home. Delhi: University of Delhi.Google Scholar
  22. Hondagneu-Sotelo, P., & Cranford, C. (2006). Gender and migration. In J. Chafetz (Ed.), Handbook of the sociology of gender (pp. 105–126). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jejeebhoy, S., & Sathar, Z. A. (2001). Women’s autonomy in India and Pakistan: The influence of religion and region. Population and Development Review, 27(4), 687–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jhutti, J. (1998). Study of changes in marriage practices among the SIkhs of Britain. Oxford: University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  25. Jhutti-Johal, J. (2013). How parties to Sikh marriages use and are influenced by the norms of their religion and culture when engaging with mediation. In M. MacLean & J. Eelekaar (Eds.), Managing family justice in diverse societies (pp. 203–219). Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  26. Karve, I. (1993). The kinship map of India. In P. Uberoi (Ed.), Family, kinship and marriage in India (pp. 50–73). Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mand, K. (2003). Gendered places, transnational lives: Sikh women in Tanzania, Britain and Indian Punjab. Brighton: University of Sussex.Google Scholar
  28. Mandelbaum, D. (1986, November 15). Sex roles and gender relations in North India. Economic and Political Weekly, 21(46), 1999–2004.Google Scholar
  29. Menski, W. (1999). South Asian women in Britain, family integrity and the primary purpose rule. In R. Barot, H. Bradley, & S. Fenton (Eds.), Ethnicity, gender and social change (pp. 81–98). London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mooney, N. (2006). Aspiration, reunification and gender transformation in Jat Sikh marriages from India to Canada. Global Networks, 6(4), 389–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mooney, N. (2011). Rural nostalgias and transnational dreams: Identity and modernity among Jat Sikhs. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mumtaz, Z., & Salway, S. (2009). Understanding gendered influences on women’s reproductive health in Pakistan: Moving beyond the autonomy paradigm. Social Science and Medicine, 68(7), 1349–1356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nesbitt, E. (1981). A note on Bhatra Sikhs. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 9(1), 70–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Office for National Statistics. (2013). 2011 census table: QS201EW.Google Scholar
  35. Perks, R., & Thomson, A. (Eds.). (2016). The oral history reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Qureshi, K. (2014). Culture shock on Southall Broadway: Re-thinking ‘second-generation’ return through ‘geographies of Punjabiness’. South Asian Diaspora, 6(2), 161–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Qureshi, K. (2016a). Marital breakdown among British Asians: Conjugality, legal pluralism and new kinship. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Qureshi, K. (2016b). Shehri (city) brides between Indian Punjab and the UK: Transnational hypergamy, Sikh women’s agency and gendered geographies of power. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(7), 1216–1228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raj, D. S. (2003). Where are you from? Middle-class migrants in the modern world. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Ravenstein, E. G. (1885). The laws of migration. Journal of the Statistical Society of London, 48, 167–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. RHLCID. (2001). Report of the high level committee on the Indian Diaspora. New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.Google Scholar
  42. Rogaly, B. (2015). Disrupting migration stories: Reading life histories through the lens of mobility and fixity. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 33, 528–544.Google Scholar
  43. Rogaly, B. (2016). Don’t show the play at the football ground, nobody will come: The micro-sociality of co-produced research in an English provincial city. The Sociological Review, 64(4), 657–680.Google Scholar
  44. Rogaly, B., & Qureshi, K. (2013). Diversity, urban space and the right to the provincial city. Identities, 20(4), 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rogaly, B., & Qureshi, K. (2017). ‘That’s where my perception of it all was shattered’: Oral histories and moral geographies of food sector workers in an English city region. Geoforum, 78, 189–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rogaly, B., & Taylor, B. (2009). Moving histories of class and community: Identity, place and belonging in contemporary England. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  47. Rogaly, B., & Taylor, B. (2010). ‘They called them communists then… What d’you call ‘em now?… Insurgents?’. Narratives of British military expatriates in the context of the new imperialism. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(8), 1335–1351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Silvey, R. (2006). Geographies of gender and migration: Spatializing social diffference. International Migration Review, 40(1), 64–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Singh, G., & Tatla, D. S. (2006). Sikhs in Britain: The making of a community. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  50. Srivastava, R. (2012). Internal migration in India: An overview of its features, trends and policy challenges. In UNESCO & UNICEF (Eds.), National Workshop on Internal Migration and Human Development in India (pp. 1–47). New Delhi: UNESCO and UNICEF.Google Scholar
  51. Thandi, S. (2013). ‘Shady character, hidden designs, and masked faces’: Reflections on vilayati Sikh marriages and discourses of abuse. In M. Hawley (Ed.), Sikh Diaspora: Theory, agency and experience (pp. 233–260). Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  52. Unnithan-Kumar, M. (2001). Emotion, agency and access to healthcare: Women’s experiences of reproduction in Jaipur. In S. Tremayne (Ed.), Managing reproductive life (pp. 27–51). Oxford: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  53. Walton-Roberts, M. (2004). Transnational migration theory in population geography: Gendered practices in networks linking Canada and India. Population, Space and Place, 10(5), 361–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Willcox, W., & Ferenczi, I. (1929). International migrations. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  55. Williams, L. (2010). Global marriage: Cross-border marriage migration in global context. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaveri Qureshi
    • 1
  • Ben Rogaly
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Social and Cultural AnthropologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Geography, School of Global StudiesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

Personalised recommendations