Expanding Ethnic and Confessional Boundaries: Marriages between Tajik Women and Foreign Men

Sofia Kasymova


In Tajikistan, even within the seemingly unitary Tajik ethnic majority, models of matrimony range from marriages arranged by parents to women freely choosing their marriage partner. The study is based on interviews with Tajik women who married non-Muslim foreigners and, in most cases, moved to their husband’s home country. The rise in cross-confessional and cross-ethnic intermarriage is due to contemporary Tajik women’s increased social and geographic mobility compared to previous generations. The new private practices and strategies illustrate the growth of individualism. Women’s free personal choice of a husband, which may be motivated either by the search for material support or by a desire to satisfy their own emotional needs, is actively opposed to the dictates of the family, avlod (clan), community, or state. At the same time, Tajik society increasingly accepts the value of individuals, including women.

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