This article illuminates the conjugal politics of French naturalization bureaucrats during the Third Republic. Against the background of a severe depopulation crisis that heightened anti-bachelor sentiment, unmarried immigrant men came to be seen as a grave threat to the stability of the French nation. In the context of massive immigration, officials endorsed the institution of marriage as an effective means of policing the morality, mobility and sexuality of the foreign-born. Thus, this article demonstrates how French officials used marriage as a disciplinary tool to contain the mobile and moral threat posed by immigrant bachelors rapidly pooling on French soil from 1880 onward. In the process, this article is the first to highlight the gendered and sexual policing ing logic of the modern French state towards immigrant men while bringing to light the mutually reinforcing histories of immigration, heterosexuality, and marriage in modern France.
Immigrant Bachelors, French Bureaucrats, and the Conjugal Politics of Naturalization in the Third Republic
Counter-Ethics of Gender and Sexuality in an Indian Dream Analysis
On the cusp of India’s Independence, a young woman in Punjab met with a psychiatrist for a conceptual experiment – the development of a ‘more objective’ and ‘Oriental’ theory of dream analysis. Known to us only as Mrs A., not only did she offer a ‘daydream’ to analyst Dev Satya Nand, she presented an intimate account of mid-twentieth-century upper-class Indian marriage, sexuality and womanhood. In her portrayal of the stakes of kinship, she posed an alternate vision – an ethic of singularity and uncertainty formed out of, but departing from, concepts of security and emplacement. This article explores Mrs A.’s account, using the work of twenty-first-century artist Shahzia Sikander to theorize her vision of possibility, and developing the concept of a counter-ethic – a formulation that presses against the parameters of an overarching ethic, occupying its conceptual and social infrastructure, but nurturing a new vision at the points it cannot be sustained.
The Fight against Marriages of Convenience in Brussels
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between January 2012 and June 2013 in eight civil registry offices in Brussels, this article explores how assumptions about intimacy intersect with the moral standards of bureaucrats evaluating the authenticity of conjugal life in order to prevent 'marriages of convenience'. From the 'intimate conviction' of the agents of the state to the co-production of intimate narratives, this article tries to understand the intrusion of states in contemporary intimacies. I look at how the bureaucratic application of a civilizational ideology affects the subjectivities of those engaging in partnerships across two different nationalities (bi-national couples) – and blurs an historic distinction between what is public and what is private.
From the Family to the Groupe Professionnel
One of Durkheim's great 'unwritten books' was on the family. And one of the consequences has been insufficient attention to the issue's centrality in his work, and to the radical implications in the case of modern society. This essay is based on his lectures and articles on the family, but together with his many reviews on the subject in the Année sociologique. Given his evolutionary approach, a start is made with his interest in the origins and development of the family. But this helps to underline the far-reaching implications of his view that the modern family has narrowed down to the conjugal family. In a way the individual is emancipated from the bonds of kinship. But it is in a transformation of inheritance into an essentially private affair. Solidarity requires a rebuilding of links across the generations, while justice require a re-collectivization of inherited wealth, through new occupational groups.
Venetian patrician wives of the late Middle Ages brought to their marriages material goods and family loyalty, both vitally important to the prosperity of conjugal families. The crucial resource was the dowry. During the marriage it sustained the family economy under the husband’s administration. Afterward, as the wife’s inherited property, it returned to her, supporting her widowhood and benefiting her children and kin. The economic connection established by the dowry, which included a corredo, a gift to the groom, encouraged collaboration between families, demonstrated in spouses’ appointment of both agnates and affines as testamentary executors. Moreover, accompanying the financial contents of the dowry were trousseaux consisting of clothing and furnishings for the bride, bestowed by her family and supplemented by the groom. These items further enhanced the relationships forged in marriage by giving visual testimony of a married woman’s position as the bridge between her natal and marital families.