Identity in a love marriage? Exploring the consequences of South Asian women's choice to take part in inter-racial relationships
SubjectSouth Asians in Canada
Love and marriage
Multiculturalism and identity
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis examines the challenges faced by young South Asian Canadian women when they choose to become involved in interracial intimate relationships. A feminist intersectional framework was used to analyze the ‘othering’ by home communities and experiences of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ status negotiated on a regular basis by the women. Data was collected through a mixed methods approach combining findings from semi-structured in-depth interviews with 10 South Asian women between the ages of 18-30 in Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia and reflexive autobiographical analysis of the study author’s own lived experience. Secondary sources used to contextualize the findings include sociological and feminist literature on South Asian women in Canada and multiculturalism, race and ethnic relations. The study findings indicate that South Asian women construct their own racialized and bicultural identities over time and in relation to the stigmatization they experience from both their own community and dominant Canadian society. Self-identification is complex and difficult for some women because of the interplay of the intense cultural socialization most received at home, and the ongoing influence of Western culture as they grew up. Not all of the women experienced the same negative consequences when involved in interracial relationships, but most showed similar emotional consequences such as distress and fear caused by familial and home community pressures to meet culturally prescribed gender role expectations and duties. Most also wanted to balance both the ethnic and Canadian aspects of their lives, retaining their South Asian heritage while adopting Westernized views on subjects such as personal happiness, marriage and independence. Multiculturalism is valued by some and seen as justification of their mixed unions. Others critiqued multiculturalism, seeing it as useful or practiced only in theory. For the 10 South Asian female participants of this study, the subject of interracial relationships and its impact on young women needs more dialogue. This thesis provides a beginning point.