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Abstract

The main aim of this ethnography is to observe and analyze how South Asian Muslim women within the diaspora negotiate during their arranged marriage process. Using Lila Abu-Lughod's (1990) technique of using a practice as diagnostic of power, I analyze the practice of negotiations during the arranged marriage process to illustrate negotiations as saturated within various forms of power. These forms of power include cultural expectations, religious obligations and commitments, and expectations about self-realization tied to women’s diaspora status in American society. This ethnography reveals that consent and coercion are complex and complicated in the lives of the interlocutors, especially during the arranged marriage process. This thesis argues that women within the diaspora negotiate within certain cultural and religious frameworks, which are anchored within the process of self-realization. Further, this thesis argues that forms of power shape understandings of consent and coercion in complex and contradictory ways in the experiences of South Asian Muslim women.

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