The issue of early marriage in Roma communities has been politicized through a negative view of reified cultural practices. I propose a new approach, situated at the crossroads of social anthropology, network analysis and law, in an attempt to include the issue of early marriage in the analysis of a human group, in terms of kinship and surrounding networks as well as the production of an autonomous legal structure.
The study will privilege multi-situated participant observation of a kinship network in the originally eastern Romanian community that terms itself “Bessarabian Roma”. Today they have been settled in Milan and Paris for some fifteen years. Their practice of early marriage will be analysed with a focus on the importance of “women’s agency”. This choice also aims at the empowerment of educated Roma women sitting on a Romni Advisory Board set up for the purposes of the project. In proceeding in this way I hope to shed light on early marriage as a political issue by coming to understand the morphology of the kinship networks and the emic representations of marriage, whether judicial, symbolic or economic.
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