Year of grant:

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Project title:
Tvør-tjóðað hjúnarband, samfelag og skapan av kvinnuleika. Ein greining av giftum filippinskum og teilendskum kvinnum í Føroyum og royndum teirra við inklusión og eksklusión.

Grant number:

Project manager:
Runa Preeti Ísfeld

Søgu og samfelagsdeildin, Fróðskaparsetrið

Other participants:
Helene Pristed Nielsen. Gestur Hovgaard

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Grant from the FRC in DKK:

Project description:
Like several other places in the North Atlantic region, the Faroe Islands have experienced a shift in the global pattern of migration. The recent 15-20 years has brought a new and rapidly increasing phenomenon to the islands, which is female marriage migration from Asia, predominantly from Thailand and the Philippines; in recent years female Africans have added to this trend.

While new population groups are thus entering the Faroe Islands, young people – and in particular young women – are leaving the islands, often in pursuit of education, and frequently without returning. Hence, the net out-migration of women from the Faroes Islands has implied a female deficit of 1,079 women in the age of 20-39 as of January 1st 2014. As of 1st of January 2014 the number of women, 20 years and older, born in the Philippines and living in the Faroes Islands, was 79; the corresponding number for Thai women was 72.

These women have a significant role in the Faroese society. As women, they become wives of local men that most likely would remain single due to the demographic female deficit. As mothers, they contribute to secure the intergenerational reproduction of the population; they are to an increasing extent becoming mothers of future generations. Also, many are employed in jobs that are not considered attractive by the locals, as for example at fish factories and cleaning companies.

With a few exceptions there is no systematic empirical knowledge of immigrants in the Faroe Islands, as for example: Who are they? What challenges are they facing? How are they coping? What does the cross-cultural situation mean to identity-building and sense of belonging? How are they perceived by locals? The drive behind the project is to understand more about the conditions and challenges faced by immigrant Asian women, married to Faroese men, in adapting to life in the Faroe Islands.

The objective of the project is to study the dynamics of cross-border marriage and the female spouses’ experiences of social inclusion and exclusion. The analysis will include personal and social realities of the immigrant spouses as far as the following is concerned:
1. Change in social status before and after migration 2. How do they construct their new lives and integrate into their new home 3. Their social construction of womanhood: being wives, daughters-in-law, workers, and mothers in the receiving society and 4. Inclusion/exclusion experiences as far as greater society is concerned (community organistions and networks, labour market and public institutions)

Theoretically the project will draw upon sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive metdodology, relationalist sociologist Viviana A. Zelizer’s theory on connected lives, and gender theory.

This PhD is about the life experiences of marriage migrants from the Global South arriving and making new lives for themselves in the Faroe Islands, a small society in the global North. Women from “third” world countries often experience stereotyping and stigmatisation due to their country of origin. This is due to a history of colonial power as well as unbalanced economic power relations between the “first” world and “third” world countries.

The aim of this dissertation is to gain a knowledge of migrant women married to the Faroe Islands and the consequences of their choice when choosing marriage migration.

I conducted a three chapter analysis where the first chapter focuses on the women’s choice and agency and their decision to marry a Faroese partner. In the second chapter, I focus and discuss the negotiations and trasactions taking place between the couples and their social relations with in laws and the local people. And lastly, the third analysis chapter focuses and discusses the women’s experiences od wider society and how they (re) position themselves as women in Farose society.

The structure and agency relations can be reflected upon; the consequences of marriage migration for my respondents are freedom to organise and negotiate their own way of living within the private sphere. Through marriage migration, they have escaped certain expectations of them as women in their home countries. The complexities and meaning of gender equality in the private sphere are negotiated between the couples. The women involved in marriage migration and the couples I have interviewed were satisfied with their lives and achievements within the private sphere. On the other hand, the women who have experienced de-skilling in the wider society are not satisfied with this situation, but at the same time they find consolation, because they are earning more money in the Faroe Islands. In relation to cultural understanding, the majority of the women feel misunderstood, as they have not yet internalised the culture of the host country. Some of them find themselves not being accepted due to their ethnicity, and I will state that colour of skin and country of origin do have consequences and do influence stereotyping.

This dissertation has shown that the stereotyping of these women is based on a biased construction and understanding of the “third world” and the “first world”. The women I interviewed have positioned themselves as active agents in order to “create” the life they desired. And by choosing marriage migration, they have experienced both positive and negative consequences in the host country. The simplified typology of “marrying up” or “marrying down” does not apply to the women whose experiences are discussed in this dissertation. This typology creates a dichotomy of “poor” and “rich”, “us” and “them”, where the socio-economic aspects, educational levels, backgrounds etc. of the women and men involved are not taken into consideration. Instead, the geography of global hypergamy is the criterion for explaining marriage migration between “third-world” women and “first-world” men. Labelling the pattern of these marriages leaves out the complexities, and stigmatises the “third-world” women as “marrying up”.

Project status:

Project output:
Marriage Migrant To The Faroe Islands: An Analysis Of The Life-World Of Non-Western Women Married To The Faroe Islands – Dissertation submitted 2019

The defence was live streamed on the You-tube channel of the University of the Faroe Islands.

I am working on an article from the second chapter of the PhD. It am focusing upon family life and migrant in the Faroe Islands

I had an academic presentation of my Ph.D. at the municipality of Fuglafjørður.

I was invited on a Faroese radio talk show on summer 2019 to talk about the results of my Ph.D.

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