Arranged Marriage: The Politics of Tradition, Resistance, and Change shows how arranged marriage practices have been undergoing transformation as a result of global and other processes such as the revolution of digital technology, democratization of transnational mobility, or shifting significance of patriarchal power structures. The ethnographically informed chapters not only highlight how the gendered and intergenerational politics of agency, autonomy, choice, consent, and intimacy work in the contexts of partner choice and management of marriage, but also point out that arranged marriages are increasingly varied and they can be reshaped, reinvented, and reinterpreted flexibly in response to individual, family, religious, class, ethnic, and other desires, needs, and constraints. The authors convincingly demonstrate that a nuanced investigation of the reasons, complex dynamics, and consequences of arranged marriages offers a refreshing analytical lens that can significantly contribute to a deeper understanding of other phenomena such as globalization, modernization, and international migration as well as patriarchal value regimes, intergenerational power imbalances, and gendered subordination and vulnerability of women.
Making the Right Choice unravels the entangled relationship between marriage, morality, and the desire for modernity as it plays out in the context of middle-class status concerns and aspirations for upward social mobility within the Sinhala-Buddhist community in urban Sri Lanka. By focusing on individual life-histories spanning three generations, the book illuminates how narratives about a gendered self and narratives about modernity are mutually constituted and intrinsically tied to notions of agency. The book uncovers how "becoming modern" in urban Sri Lanka, rather than causing inter-generational conflict, is a collective aspiration realized through the efforts of bringing up educated and independent women capable of making "right" choices. The consequence of this collective investment is a feminist conundrum: agency does not denote the right to choose, but the duty to make the "right" choice; hence agency is experienced not as a sense of "freedom," but rather as a burden of responsibility.