Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Translocal and local dynamics of a global media phenomenon: Changing female subjectivity and agency in the Indian online matrimonial market

Indian matrimonial websites as a new and increasingly popular medium of seeking a marriage partner are conquering India's marriage market since the late 1990s with millions of users. Despite their traditional outlook in structure and design, these online spaces are nevertheless reflecting new dimensions of media usage and partner choice.

Arranged marriages are probably more associated with India than any other cultural tradition. Even today, more than 90% of Indian marriages are termed as »arranged«.

But what does »arranged« in contrast to »love« marriage mean?

One has to be careful to avoid the imminent danger of reinforcing persistent stereotypes. My PhD project suggests that the distinction between love and arranged marriages is far more ambiguous than clear-cut. For example, parents may legitimize mutual attraction between a young man and woman who have been going out together for a while by arranging their marriage. Or a young woman will search according to very traditional criteria on a website and initiate her own marriage orientated on practical and rational requirements without having any romantic feelings. How do we categorize these cases then?

Matrimonial websites represent through their published success stories and the users' profiles manifold »Indian« forms and approaches towards marriage and partner selection in the context of a global media age. Analyzing these websites helps us to understand that simplified terms and categories are out of place.

Being a digital medium, the outreach encompasses the widespread Indian diaspora as well and thus stands for a transnational Indian media and marriage market. It doesn't matter whether a user is sitting in Mumbai, London, New York or any provincial town in India, they are all part of the same network.

But how do female users appropriate the Indian online matrimonial market? Does a more medialized form of partner selection lead towards a changed selfhood? Does it enable Indian women to be more active in the process?

This project addresses these questions by analyzing female self-representations on matrimonial websites. It also looks into the representations of Indian womanhood and notions of marriage which are being communicated through design and advertisement in the online matrimonial market. My research is based on web analysis as well as on extensive field research including interviews with users, marriage brokers and media producers in Mumbai and Gujarat. - One of India's leading matrimonial websites
titzmann-01.jpg - Language (here: »Tamil«) as one of many search filters.
titzmann-02.jpg - Success Story written by the bride

Fritzi-Marie Titzmann, M.A.
E-Mail: Fritzi Titzmann

Prof. Dr. Nadja-Christina Schneider
Junior Professor for Mediality and Intermediality in Asian and African Societies
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Room: 220
Phone +49 (0)30 / 2093-6643

Birgit Koch
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 2093-6601
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 2093-6666

Cross-Section for Mediality and Intermediality
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
D-10099 Berlin