Protecting Dutch Girls from the Harem: Premarital Counselling for Mixed Marriages with Muslim Men

in Journal of Migration History
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In the migration history literature, the number of marriages between newcomers and the native population is considered to be the ultimate litmus test of the integration or assimilation of migrants. However, little attention has been paid to how the state has actively intervened to prevent such marriages. The premarital counselling for mixed marriages provided by Dutch state officials, in cooperation with churches and NGOs, represents one such intervention. It mainly targeted Dutch women marrying Muslim men, and until the 1990s it was informed by stereotypes about gender, class and race that intersected with religion. Counselling Dutch girls about Islamic family law served as a way to demonstrate how intrinsically different ‘the other’ was. Ultimately, premarital counselling was about the power of regulations of mixture in shaping identities and producing ‘race’, linking it to sex, gender and family formations.

Protecting Dutch Girls from the Harem: Premarital Counselling for Mixed Marriages with Muslim Men

in Journal of Migration History




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In the 1910sthe French Ministry of Interior issued a notice discouraging French women from marrying Chinese men. Xu Guoqi Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese workers in the Great War (Cambridge 2011) 150–151.


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In 1936766 Dutch women were in a marriage with a non-Dutch husband mostly of other European nationalities. The number of marriages with Indonesian husbands is unknown. Hondius Gemengde huwelijken 65.


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 Quoted in HondiusGemengde huwelijken150.


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On 1 January 1 2014the Dutch Bureau of Statistics recorded 169949 mixed couples of “autochtone” men and “allochtone” women and 104718 mixed couples of “autochtone” women and “allochtone” men including married and unmarried couples. “Allochtone” is a Dutch policy term referring to a person who has at least one parent born abroad.


Lucassen and Laarman‘Immigration intermarriage and the changing face of Europe’55.


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    A picture of an unknown mixed couple from 1917, Collectie Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Leiden, Photo nr: 34458


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