Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and "Mail Order" Marriages

By the year 2000 more than 350 Internet agencies were plying the email-order marriage trade, and the business of matching up mostly Western men with women from Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America had become an example of globalization writ large. This provocative work opens a window onto the complex motivations and experiences of the people behind the stereotypes and misconceptions that have exploded along with the practice of transnational courtship and marriage. Combining extensive Internet ethnography and face-to-face fieldwork, Romance on a Global Stage looks at the intimate realities of Filipinas, Chinese women, and U.S. men corresponding in hopes of finding a suitable marriage partner.

Through the experiences of those engaged in pen pal relationships--their stories of love, romance, migration, and long-distance dating--this book conveys the richness and dignity of women's and men's choices without reducing these correspondents to calculating opportunists or naive romantics. Attentive to the structural, cultural, and personal factors that prompt women and men to seek marriage partners abroad, Romance on a Global Stage questions the dichotomies so frequently drawn between structure and agency, and between global and local levels of analysis.