Marriage, Law & the State in India

Workshop of Project A06 "Social Practices and Media Narratives of Matrimonial Decision-Making in India"

Poster of the Workshop "Marriage, Law & the State in India"
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The workshop will focus on the lived practices of marriage as situations of decision-making, and gathers experts in the area of gender, kinship, and legal anthropology. Prof. Sylvia Vatuk from the University of Illinois at Chicago has engaged in a study of changing kinship, family law and its impact on marriages. Dr. Henrike Donner from the Goldsmiths University of London is an urban anthropologist who explores the interplay of gender, kinship, reproduction of class and consumption.

As the central means to find a suitable spouse, arranged marriages among Indians are still popular social experiences that involve complex processes negotiated among multiple actors. Decision-making is not reduced to individual intentions, but understood as a social practice. By casting light on the cultural contexts of thought, reason, emotion and action, our discussions seek to locate what is ‘valuable’, ‘necessary’ and ‘lawful’ and how it is mobilized in the matrimonial decision-making process. We also explore how media narratives shape and frame matrimonial choices in a culturally-diverse country such as India.

Besides exciting presentations and fruitful discussions, participants shall gain from the shared experiences and insights of these researchers. To put it simpler, the potentials of marriage-related decisions have been demonstrated, but it has yet to be realized and we would like to find out how.

Sub project A06 Social Practices and Media Narratives of Matrimonial Decision-Making in India



Wednesday, 20th July 2016

09.00–09:30 Welcome and Introduction of the workshop
Presentation of the SFB 1150 and the sub project A06 Social Practices and Media Narratives of Matrimonial Decision-Making in India Prof. Dr. Helene Basu
09.30–10:15 Marriage Laws and Matrimonial Decisions in Multi-Religious India Prof. Dr. Sylvia Vatuk (Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago)
10.15–10:45 Framing Matrimonial Decision-Making: Methodological queries Mrinal Pande
11.00–11:45 Responses Collective discussions related to the SFB “Cultures of Decision-making” & Project A06
11.45–12:30 Negotiating marriage between customary law, Islamic norms and ‘modernity’: an ethnographic example of a divorce case from Gilgit-Baltistan, Northern Pakistan Anna-Maria Walter (Researcher & Doctoral candidate at Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich)
14.00–14:45 Beyond Forever After: Contextualising Marital Decisions in Kolkata Middle-class Families Dr. Henrike Donner (Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London)
14.45–15.30 Concluding discussion


Prof. Dr. Helene Basu
Institute of Ethnology
Tel.: +49 251 83-27311