Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation

Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation

Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation

Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation

Synopsis

Since the late nineteenth century, fears that marriage is in crisis have reverberated around the world. This volume explores this phenomenon, asking why people of various races, classes, and nations frequently seem to be fretting about marriage. Each of the chapters analyzes a specific time and place during which proclamations of marriage crisis have dominated public discourse, whether in late imperial Russia, 1920s India, mid-century France, or present-day Iran. Collectively, the chapters reveal how diverse individuals have deployed the institution of marriage to talk not only about intimate relationships, but also to understand the nation, its problems, and various socioeconomic and political transformations.

Excerpt

Kristin Celello and Hanan Kholoussy

At the beginning of her wide-ranging account of the history of marriage, Stephanie Coontz notes that, in the early twenty-first century, “Almost everywhere people worry that marriage is in crisis.” These anxieties are important to Coontz because they demonstrate the rapid, far-reaching changes that she contends have revolutionized the institution of marriage in the relatively recent past. Equally intriguing, however, is her deft deconstruction of the current global concerns about marriage, in which the nature and purported sources of each crisis differ drastically, and even contradictorily, in various regional and national settings. Location, as well as context, clearly matters when it comes to the substance and meaning of any given marriage crisis. But why has marriage, specifically, had the power to generate widespread national concern in so many different places both recently and in the past?

The goal of Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties is to elucidate the interconnected relationships among marriage, crisis, and the nation, by thinking about marriage and its “problems” through a broad interpretative framework. If “the nation has invariably been imagined via metaphors of family,” those periods in which familial bonds—marital and generational—seem to be fraying often lead to worries about the stability and future of a nation. While such metaphors are flawed, based on assumptions of patriarchal benevolence and familial harmony (which the case of marriage crisis belies), the popular notion that marriage is a microcosm of modern society is nevertheless a powerful one. National conversations about the . . .

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