African-Australian Marriage Migration

An Ethnography of (Un)happiness


In African-Australian Marriage Migration: An Ethnography of (Un)happiness, Henrike A. Hoogenraad follows journeys of marriage migration among African-Australian couples. The study narrates these journeys as ‘happiness projects’, since for cross-border couples, happiness is connected to dreams for a life-long partnership that begins with the visa application. Yet, happiness is invoked as an aspired state rather than an achieved goal. The obstacles of government bureaucracy, institutional and everyday racism, and unrealistic expectations of romance prevent the hoped-for happy endings. This monograph upsets a ‘scam artist’ narrative that generalises migrant men and their sponsoring partners, and which obscures the difficult process of crossing borders both physical and intimate. Hoogenraad’s work is a welcome contribution to anthropological literature on marriage migration.

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Henrike A. Hoogenraad, Ph.D. (2018), is an Adjunct Fellow at The University of Adelaide. She has published articles on cross-border relationships in Australia, including ‘Marriage Migration as Happiness Projects? Africa-origin male marriage migrants’ experiences with marriage migration to Australia’, in The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2020).

1 Introduction
 1 Conceptualizing Marriage Migration
 2 Marriage Migration as a Happiness Project
  2.1 Dark Anthropology and an Anthropology of Happiness
  2.2 Critical Race Theory: A Framework for Obstructions to Happiness in Australia
 3 Overview of the Book

2 Setting the Scene
 1 Introduction
 2 From White Australia to ‘Multiculturalism’
  2.1 Migration from the African Continent to Australia
  2.2 ‘African’ Men in Adelaide
 3 Methods of Data Collection
  3.1 Researcher Positionality

3 Love, Romance and Happiness
 1 Introduction
 2 Jacob’s Love Story
 3 Conceptualizing Romantic Love
 4 Cross-border Love Stories
  4.1 Recollections of Beautiful Beginnings
  4.2 Visions of Australia
  4.3 Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
 5 Conclusion

4 Couples’ Experiences with Visa Procedures
 1 Introduction
 2 That Gut Feeling
 3 Genuine Relationships and the (Australian) Border
  3.1 Defining Genuineness
  3.2 Applying for a Partner Visa in Australia
 Couples’ Experiences with the Visa Application Process
  4.1 Dealing with Regulations, Time and Money
  4.2 Accumulating Evidence and Anxiety
  4.3 And Finally, the Interview
 5 Conclusion

5 Cross-border Couples and Everyday Racism
 1 Introduction
 2 “Be Careful with African Men”
 3 Everyday Racism and Everyday Prejudice
 4 Cross-border Couples’ Experiences with Everyday Racism
  4.1 Men’s Experiences with Everyday Racism
  4.2 Women’s Experiences with Everyday Racism
  4.3 Couples and Australian Relatives
  4.4 Couples and their African Relatives
  4.5 African Communities in Australia and Everyday Racism
 5 Conclusion

6 Migrant Men and Intimate Relationships
 1 Introduction
 2 Looking for Happiness, Finding Sadness
 3 Male Marriage Migrants
 4 Experiences of Marriage Migration among Migrant Men
 4.1 Expectations of the Relationship
 4.2 Isolation and Homesickness
 4.3 Moving Up and Down the Socioeconomic Ladder
 4.4 Work and Finances
 4.5 Controlling Wives and the Regaining of Masculinity
 5 Conclusion

7 Sponsoring Women and Intimate Relationships
 1 Introduction
 2 An Unhappy Wife
 3 White Australian Women and Relationship Expectations
 4 Experiences of Marriage Migration among Sponsoring Women
  4.1 Bodies and Relationships
  4.2 Cultural Compatibility
  4.3 Unhappy Relationships
 5 Conclusion

8 Conclusion
Life after Permanent Residency
 1 Migrant Men: Separations and Moving On
 2 Sponsoring Women: Separations and Moving On
 3 The Happy Ones: Narratives of Companionship


All interested in marriage migration and cross border intimacy, and anyone with an interest in love, gender, African migration to Australia, and anthropology.