Transforming polygamy: migration, transnationalism and multiple marriages among Muslim minorities

Katharine A H Charsley, Anika Liversage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
421 Downloads (Pure)


In Europe, polygamy is often portrayed as emblematic of unchanging patriarchal traditions among Muslims. In contrast, based on research with Pakistanis in Britain and Turks in Denmark, we explore ways in which polygamy is transformed in the context of migration and transnationalism. Migration-related polygamy features in accounts of the pioneer generations of Pakistani and Turkish migrants to Europe, but there is also evidence of great variety in contemporary practices of multiple marriage, and new permutations of polygamy arising due to the specific conditions of transnational migration. Coexisting legal systems within and between nations; the opportunities of spousal settlement; multiple marital aspirations; and both transnational connections and geographical distance combine to create opportunities and motivations for a range of polygamous situations, including some in which ‘technical’ polygamy masks monogamy in practice.
Translated title of the contributionTransforming Polygamy: migration, transnationalism and multiple marriage among Muslim minorities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-78
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Networks
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

Structured keywords

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • Migration
  • Transnationalism
  • Marriage
  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • Transnationalism
  • Marriage
  • Polygamy
  • Muslims
  • Denmark
  • UK


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