Organized Panel Session
Across Asia there is evidence of massive shifts occurring in the form, experience, and timing of marriage. Young people, particularly young women, are delaying marriage in order to pursue higher education and employment in the hope of improving their life situation and that of their families. Men and women espouse a neoliberal discourse of self-development and personal exploration in describing their marital projects and in underscoring their desire to put off marriage until they have “mined their potential” and identified a life partner who shares their “mission and vision.” While these developments are most evident among urban youth, young people from rural backgrounds are also delaying marriage to pursue education and employment in urban centers with an eye to gaining entry into the new (educated) middle class. Marital patterns are formed against the backdrop of state policies and legal strictures which frame conjugal expectations and possibilities as well as options for divorce. State laws and the religious courts have both constrained and facilitated the shape of marital and pre-marital relationships in sometimes unexpected ways. New forms of marriage and of pre-marital relationships include “virtual” and long-distance relationships, the use of innovative forms of match-making, temporary marriage and living together without marrying, and increasingly, non-marriage. These papers examine and compare shifting patterns of love, marriage, and divorce in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Tibet. They highlight the changing nature of legal constraints, existential concerns, and social imaginaries in shaping new forms of marriage, romance, and family in Asia.