Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage

Jennifer Sue Hirsch and Holly Wardlow

How are love, marriage, and desire changing? This collection confronts that question, examining how global cultural flows, changing gender relations, specific economic structures, and state policies are reshaping intimate life around the world. Grounded in cutting edge feminist anthropological theory, these essays discuss how women and men craft courtship, intimacy, and marriage around the world, situating intimate relations in their respective social and economic contexts and exposing the dynamics that are shared cross-culturally, as well as those characteristics that are specific to each site.
 
In this first comparative ethnographic look at the global transformation toward marital ideals characterized by emotional intimacy, companionship, and mutual choice—discussed here as "companionate marriage"—Modern Loves asks how this shift is occurring and explores the factors that promote and hinder it, just who is pushing for these more companionate relationships, and what advantages men and women see in modern love. The contributors analyze the intricate negotiations surrounding love, marriage, and sex in Mexico, India, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Singapore, and Hong Kong and among Latino youth in East Los Angeles. Modern Loves presents the new global approach to kinship studies, examining both the microlevel practices that constitute and bind relationships and the macrolevel forces that shape the landscape of love.