Migration and Diasporas
According to immigration regulations, the right to marriage migration applies only to relationships that are deemed genuine, as opposed to marriages of convenience. Marriage migration couples are required to demonstrate to state agents the genuine character of their romantic attachment in order to achieve a positive outcome for their applications. Drawing on interviews and ethnographic work with 15 Thai women who are marriage migrants, this article examines Thai women’s narratives about their intimate relationships when faced with Australian immigration regulations and processes. Two questions are asked: first, how do women narrate their emotional lives and intimate relationships when encountering immigration regulation’s requirement for a ‘real’ marriage? Second, how do they experience this intrusion by a foreign state into their emotions, practices and understandings of love and intimacy? The article illustrates the ways in which the practical actions of caring and sharing are mobilized as important strategies for expressing ‘real’ love and intimacy in marriage migration processes. Although Thai women always state that love is a significant factor in their desire and decision to migrate to live together with their partners, the meanings of love and intimacy are inconsistent and alter in relation to changing situations and contexts. Women’s narratives are not free from the economic and structural inequalities of an unequal world.