Marriages of Convenience and Capitulation
This chapter uses the debate about the legal redress against ‘forced marriages’ in the UK to explore the fuzzy spaces between consent and coercion in South Asian or ’desi’ 1 arranged marriages. 2 It suggests that, whilst the social construction of consent has received some attention in recent years (notably, Anitha and Gill 2009), ‘force’ and capitulation are just as important to understanding South Asian kinship and marital arrangements. The word ‘capitulation’ comes from the Latin capitulare — ‘to treat upon terms’ — and indicates a surrender that has been suitably negotiated and whose terms are to be upheld by conventions of honour. This chapter seeks to understand the significance of capitulation in the realm of South Asian marriage and kinship.