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World of Diasporas: Different Perceptions on the Concept of Diaspora

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This chapter uses Muslim communities in greater Milwaukee region in Wisconsin, United States as a case study to examine marriage negotiation among Palestinian women. I argue that Muslim women increasingly play a vital role in making changes to their gender roles and enhancing their marriage choices. Intermarriage outside their ethnic and national groups, increase in marriage age, and the rate of unmarried women become visible phenomena among second-generation Muslim. The decreasing number of suitable potential spouses drove Palestinian-American women to look outside their national and ethnic group for marriage partners. This made them prioritize their universal, religious identity as Muslims over Palestinian ethnic identity. The establishment and the function of mosques and Islamic institutions since 1980s as spaces for community activities helped enforce the Islamic identity. However, Palestinian women as part of a displaced group living in diaspora and longing for their own independent nation-state, generally, preferred to marry a partner from the same cultural background if a compatible potential spouse was available. The importance of this study is that it is the first to examine how Palestinian Muslim women negotiate their marriage by conceptualizing, utilizing, and exploiting their group cultural and religious values in order to expand the boundaries of their social and gender roles and increase their power in negotiating marriage contracts.


Accepted version. "Muslim Women in the Diaspora: Shaping Lives and Negotiating Their Marriages," in World of Diasporas: Different Perceptions on the Concept of Diaspora. Eds. Harjinder Singh Majhail and Sinan Dogan. Leiden: Brill 2018. © 2018 Brill. Used with permission. DOI.

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