Marriage not only enables the immigration of the foreign spouse; it may also enable the couple to invite other family members to immigrate to the couple’s country of residence.In Europe generally, and in France specifically, efforts to limit immigration have produced a frenzy of legislation seeking to control binational marriage and subsequent family reunification (Charsley 2012; Ferran 2008; Fernandez 2013; Neveu Kringelbach 2013; Rytter 2012).More generally, marriage, kinship and sexuality now constitute key sites for the construction and negotiation of the external borders and internal boundaries of French society (D. The way love, marriage, and kinship figure in the negotiation of borders and the policing of French national identity is particularly visible in the case of binational marriages, what the French now refer to as .Since the decline in state-sponsored labor migration that occurred in the late 1970s, marriage and the right to family reunification have become one of the few ways for would-be migrants to secure legal entry and citizenship (Ferran 2008; for Europe more generally, see Beck-Gernsheim 2011; Bledsoe and Sow 2011; Charsley 2012; Fernandez 2013; Rytter 2012).New regulations make them ever more difficult to achieve, even as official pronouncements justify heightened control by demonizing binational marriages and family reunification as no more than clever ploys to gain citizenship ( 2013).At the same time that marriage ratios have declined, heated public debate about marriage, sexuality, and intimate relations among gays and immigrants have exploded in the public sphere.
The entangled relationship between marriage, kinship, and nation is particularly visible in France (Robcis 2013; Surkis 2006).
During the past several decades, rates of marriage have declined among the majority of the population, replaced by Pacs () and informal cohabitation; France has one of the lowest marriage rates in northern Europe (Moore 2006).
In the context of growing threats to French sovereignty—including increasing globalization, European integration, regional decentralization, and a visible Muslim immigrant population—these debates have also become the battleground on which to determine who belongs to the nation and how.
The “stakes are not only the sexual order,” Eric Fassin (2008, 104) noted with respect to public discussions about gay marriage, “but also the national family.” In a related vein, Mayanthi Fernando (2013) has argued that recent concern about Muslim women’s sexuality in the , neighborhoods that have become metonymic of Muslim migrants and disorder, registers the French Republic’s efforts to reassert sovereignty and restore authority.
The experientially compelling nature of romantic love and companionate marriage not withstanding, marriage is neither an entirely individual matter nor an entirely familial one.Rather, marriage has long been central to how states regulate their populations and constitute national belonging.