Culture and Transition: The Case of Divorced Punjabi Women in Britain

Dr. Surinder Guru
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The experience of divorce amongst migrant communities is a much neglected area of research and policy and we know little about how culture helps to shape this experience. This paper draws on two previous researches in West Midlands, UK, in which a minority of the respondents were divorced. It highlights the changing relationships of divorced women and their families within the wider context of migration and 'race', class and age distinctions. It draws on existing literature on divorce in Western cultures to show the commonalities and differences between the experiences of Punjabi women in Britain and other Western women in general. The paper concludes that whilst the traditional, normative values about marriage can have devastating effects on women's lives, the experiences of divorce can act as an anchor from which women begin to develop a critical perspective on their cultures. Divorce can provide an impetus for a change in normative values and practices and be a positive, rather than a negative force in women's lives. The ability to realize and sustain such strength is dependent upon the range of social, economic and emotional support that is available to women.

Keywords: Divorce, Culture, Women, Migration
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Surinder Guru

Lecturer, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham
Birmingham, West Midlands, UK

Surinder Guru is a Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Birmingham. Her PhD research was on South Asian women in Britain; it examined the position of women within the family, community and the labour market and as well as their relationship to the British state. She has subsequently conducted research on local domestic violence policy, mental health and women as well as the transmission of femininity within Asian families across generations. Her teaching areas are sociology, social policy, ethnicity, gender studies and disability.

Ref: I07P0928