Marzana Kamal | Wives Left Behind: A Study of the Impact of Men’s International Labour Migration on their Wives in Bangladesh

Lecture | August 27 | 12-2 p.m. | 10 Stephens Hall

 Marzana Kamal, PhD Candidate, Sociology and Social Policy, Bangor University, Gwynedd, UK

 Sanchita Saxena, Director, Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies; Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies

 Institute for South Asia Studies, The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, Berkeley Master of Development Practice, Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Center for Initiative on Political Conflict, Gender and People's Rights Race and Gender, American Medical Women's Association at Berkeley

Join us for a talk by Marzana Kamal on the intersectionality of migration, patriarchy and religion in Bangladesh through an exploration of male labour migration and it's impact on the wives that get left behind in Bangladesh.

Talk Abstract
Studies at the intersection of gender and labour migration have largely focused on female migrants. But in many developing countries, labour migrants remain predominantly male and their wives stay behind. Using qualitative research methods, I examine the impacts of men’s migration on the everyday life and gender relations of their left-behind wives in two districts of Bangladesh (Bogura and Munshiganj). My analysis suggests that, the village wives lead strictly circumscribed lives under the supervision of their in-laws. The concept of ‘respectable woman’ vodro meye further curbs village wives’ physical autonomy. Whereas, changes in patrilocal settings in the migrant households place fewer restrictions on sub-urban wives’ physical mobility. Religious clothing such as Burkha is practised by both the village and suburban wives. Burkha facilitates suburban wives’ physical mobility, but it does not serve that purpose for the village wives. Data from the interviews with migrant men suggests that village men promote female ‘modesty’, madrassa education and early marriages for girls. I find that the identity formation of ‘modern’ Muslim wives, in the milieu of men’s migration, does not convert to greater physical autonomy or decision-making power for the women. My thesis highlights the policy importance of considering not only the economic advantages of labour migration (remittances) but also its potential social costs which affect men and women differently.

Speaker Bio
Marzana Kamal is a final year PhD student in Sociology and Social Policy at Bangor University, UK. Prior to the PhD, she completed her MA in Gender and International Development from University of Warwick. For her MA thesis, she used discourse analysis to examine the factors hindering social integration of Muslim women in the UK.

Event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

Established in 2013 with a generous gift from the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Foundation, The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley champions the study of Bangladesh’s cultures, peoples and history. The first of its kind in the US, the Center’s mission is to create an innovative model combining research, scholarships, the promotion of art and culture, and the building of ties between institutions in Bangladesh and the University of California.

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