Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

A Courtship after Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

A Courtship after Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families

Article excerpt

Hirsch, Jennifer S., A COURTSHIP AFTER MARRIAGE: SEXUALITY AND LOVE IN MEXICAN TRANSNATIONAL FAMILIES. Berkeley, CA: University of California, 2003.376 pp., $60.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper).

A Courtship after Marriage is an artfully crafted scholarly portrayal and analysis of sexuality and love among Mexican transnational workers that traces the transformation of conjugal relations from ones based on "respect" (respeto) to those based on "trust" (confianza). Jennifer Hirsch approaches this theme with a wide variety of evidence and an avoidance of simplistic unidirectional change interpretation, which is perhaps her most important contribution in this book. This engaging and compelling story brings to life the active persons who contributed to the study, and it also benefits from the author's informative, explanatory, and occasionally provocative reflexive commentary. The author's self-awareness and contextualization add methodological insight and valuable expression of alternative interpretations.

Hirsch presents her interpretive stance in a critical examination of guiding constructs gender and sexuality, companionate marriage, bargaining theory, modernization and modernity, and transnationalism. She lays out a creative fieldwork plan for "systematic ethnographic sampling" and life history interviews. Thirteen Mexican women living in Atlanta were matched with thirteen women living in two geographically close communities located in Jalisco and Michoacan, Mexico - a well-designed comparative methodology that likely will be emulated by future scholars. She proceeds with an overview of the transnational community living in, and moving between, Atlanta and the two selected communities in Mexico. The rest of the book is organized around Hirsch's research focus themes: changing marital ideals and the rise of companionate marriage in this Mexican transnational community. Mid-way through the book, Hirsch offers methodological reflection on the changes described to this point, examining generational differences and possible impacts of social and economic change represented by migration to Atlanta, the underlying assumptions about what women and men bring to courtship, and what the evident changes from the past might mean in relation to the rise of companionate marriage, all with thoughtful comparisons drawn from a global literature. She then returns to descriptive information focused on how migration changes marriage. Comparing those who migrate with those who do not, she looks critically at interpretations and implications of women's employment opportunities; sense of privacy, mobility, and social marking of space; and domestic violence. …

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