Marriage Registration among Palestinians and Syrians in Jordan

Debating Identity, Society, and Displacement

Sociology of Islam

Based on long-term fieldwork in Jordan, this paper discusses two marriage registration practices that have become topics of public debate and locus for intervention projects of development organizations: the early registration of marriages among Palestinian camp residents, and the non-registration of marriages among Syrian refugees. This paper shows how the narratives around marriage registration play a role in the production of identity and senses of belonging and provides insight into the overlaps and gaps between the discourses of development organizations and the concerns of those involved in these practices. In the Palestinian case, the early registration of marriage provides the couple with a limited but important space to get acquainted before the wedding. Women’s organizations and NGOs, however, often blame this practice for the increase in divorce rates before consummation. In the Syrian case, organizations focus on the negative legal and social consequences of not registering a marriage with the state, while conversations with Syrians reveal the obstacles they face while navigating the Jordanian legal system and their need to legitimize their non-registration of marriages.

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