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Love and Empire

Love and Empire: Cybermarriage and Citizenship across the Americas

Felicity Amaya Schaeffer
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Love and Empire
    Book Description:

    The spread of the Internet is remaking marriage markets, altering the process of courtship and the geographic trajectory of intimacy in the 21st century. For some Latin American women and U.S. men, the advent of the cybermarriage industry offers new opportunities for re-making themselves and their futures, overthrowing the common narrative of trafficking and exploitation. In this engaging, stimulating virtual ethnography, Felicity Amaya Schaeffer follows couples' romantic interludes at Vacation Romance Tours, in chat rooms, and interviews married couples in the United States in order to understand the commercialization of intimacy. While attending to the interplay between the everyday and the virtual, Love and Empire contextualizes personal desires within the changing global economic and political shifts across the Americas. By examining current immigration policies and the use of Mexican and Colombian women as erotic icons of the nation in the global marketplace, she forges new relations between intimate imaginaries and state policy in the making of new markets, finding that women's erotic self-fashioning is the form through which women become ideal citizens, of both their home countries and in the United States. Through these little-explored, highly mediated romantic exchanges, Love and Empire unveils a fresh perspective on the continually evolving relationship between the U.S. and Latin America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2492-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Intimate Investments
    (pp. 1-30)

    Latin America’s association with abundant love and sexual passion continues to structure gendered opportunities, mobility, and citizenship. Over 200 international marriage broker (IMB) websites, advertising romance and marriage between U.S. men and Latin American women, lure in male viewers with pictures of young women in skimpy swimsuits, bracketed by luscious tropical settings, casting salacious glances at the Internet viewer. Women’s bodies have long figured as the seductive force of regional and national trade, enticing investors and travelers from colonial times to current tourism brochures and, more recently, Internet marriage websites. In particular, the global marketing of women on cybermarriage websites...

  5. 1 Enforcing Romantic Love through Immigration Law
    (pp. 31-53)

    Huddled together at a party that gathered a growing community of Colombian women married to U.S. men, various women admitted to each other in Spanish that they did not love their U.S. husbands when they decided to marry and migrate to the United States.¹ I discovered during my interviews with some of these women two years later that three of the women ended up falling in love with their husbands over time. One woman fell in love even after agreeing to pay a man $6,000 to marry her until she received her permanent residency. A couple of the other women’s...

  6. 2 Conversions of the Self: Mexican Women’s Turn from the National to the Foreign
    (pp. 54-78)

    As I approached the glitzy Presidente hotel where I was to interview men and women at the International Singles party—otherwise known as the “Romance Vacation Tour”—the bus veered into Plaza del Sol, one of the wealthiest and most well manicured and touristy areas of Guadalajara, Mexico. As women began to arrive, it was quite apparent that these were not your typical “mail-order brides” popularly thought to marry men from the United States out of poverty and desperation. On the contrary, the majority of women were well educated and from a small, burgeoning, professional Mexican middle class. They were...

  7. 3 Outsourcing the American Dream: Transforming Men’s Virtual Fantasies into Social Realities
    (pp. 79-107)

    Stereotypical perceptions of “buying” women through mail-order bride catalogues no longer hold true for men I interviewed seeking a foreign bride. The process, players, and reasons for seeking foreign women have changed; not all fit the stereotype of the awkward and lonely guy with Coke-bottle glasses searching the pages of a magazine from the privacy of his bedroom. Nor are these solitary journeys in search for a wife. Chat-room discussants on Planet-Love. com invest months, even years, sharing “travel reports,” swapping dating and marital experiences, and discussing cultural differences and immigration procedures.¹

    Computers have dramatically altered the process and places...

  8. 4 Bodies for Export! The Pliable Economy of Beauty and Passion in Colombia
    (pp. 108-135)

    In Cali, Colombia, I accompanied the same international marriage broker tour as in Guadalajara, Mexico, held at its sister five-star hotel. As one of the regions in Colombia with the highest black ormorenopopulation, there were many more dark-skinned and working-class women at the Cali Romance Tour than there were at the Mexican tour. In contrast to the majority of women interviewed in Mexico, who drove nice cars, lived in middle-class neighborhoods, were highly educated, and had professional jobs, almost all of the twenty women I interviewed (except the translators and a handful of participants) had less education and/or...

  9. 5 Migrant Critique: Love and the Patriot
    (pp. 136-162)

    In discussing my research topic with others through the years, most people want to know how these marriages work out. On numerous occasions, people would come up to me after I had given a talk on this project and ask, “Do menreallyfind a 1950s wife?” Or “Do Latin American womentrulyenjoy a more traditional domestic role?” In part, these inquiries question whether these virtual fantasies work out in ways that match expectations. I am wary, however, of drawing from statistics that would prove whether foreign couplings are more or less successful than U.S. marriages. I have not...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 163-196)
    (pp. 197-218)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 219-228)
    (pp. 229-229)