Helena Zeweri

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rice U.

Grant number

Gr. 9285

Approve Date

April 18, 2016

Project Title

Zeweri, Helena, Rice U., Houston, TX - To aid research on 'Between Watchful Care and Surveillance: Humanitarian Reason and the Criminalization of Forced Marriage in Australia,' supervised by Dr. James D. Faubion

Preliminary abstract: This study will examine how the recent criminalization of forced marriage in Australia is restructuring Muslim women refugees’ experiences of political and cultural citizenship. In 2013, the Australian state deemed forced marriage a federal crime, making it one of two countries in the world to do so. In providing ‘escape plans’ to recently arrived refugee women and recruiting the help of the Australian Red Cross, the state has framed forced marriage as a decidedly humanitarian issue. Members of civil society are also undergoing state-funded trainings on how to assess whether or not women are at risk of forced marriages based on the nature of their relationships with their parents and male kin. As the Australian state equips Muslim women with the lexicon of self-determination, the law and human rights, it is also making their intimate kinship relations increasingly subject to public scrutiny and surveillance, resulting in new configurations of victimhood, kin, and citizenship. Focused in the state of Victoria, this project will closely examine how Muslim women refugees and their kin from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, along with civil society, are experiencing the intimate and institutional effects of the law and campaign around forced marriage. Using a combination of participant observation, interviews, archival research, and media analysis, this research will bring together conversations in the anthropology of humanitarianism, the anthropology of gender and Islam, and the anthropology of the state, examining how notions of care, victimhood, and citizenship get reshaped as the intimate socialities and kin relations of aspiring citizenries are deemed sites of humanitarian crisis in late liberal states.