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Philippine Prison Marriages

The Politics of Kinship and Women's Composite Agency

Sif Lehman Jensen


This article, from the perspective of how agency is nested in this choice, explores why women marry imprisoned insurgents from the southern Philippines. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Maharlika Village, a major Muslim community in Manila, the article discusses how women negotiate gender relations, family, and insurgency politics against the backdrop of political conflict and their precarious everyday lives. The analysis asks how prison marriages feed into the women's everyday maneuvering of the metropole, and how marrying a political prisoner is embedded in moral and gendered obligations arising from the entangled relationship between kinship and insurgency politics. Theoretically, the article argues that prison marriages are part of the women's composite agency, which captures how they aim at fulfilling contradictory desires, notions of morality and gendered obligations, which enables them to momentarily attain their own aspirations.