Selecting Intercultural Intimate Partners in the Late Modern Britain: The Case of Persian Immigrants

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Ali AMIRMOAYED, University of Birmingham & AHA Intercultural Solutions Ltd, United Kingdom
This paper discusses procedures related to Persians’ outgroup partner selections in the United Kingdom. The first section explores the Persian traditional process for selecting a spouse, and compares it with the process followed by the 36 research participants selecting a non-Persian partner in the UK. To explain partner selection practices, I examine how most participants in this study are caught between traditional norms and their individual choices. Based on Smart and Shipman’s (2004) argument, I explain how participants amended and changed the traditional norms related to partner selection. To explain why Persians chose partners from other social groups, I discuss a series of practical issues, such as obtaining UK citizenship and overcoming a lack of social acceptance in the host country. However and more importantly, I analyse the parts of the Persian cultural identity that participants were in conflict with, which mainly revolved around gender constructs and relations. Finally, based on Hall’s (1990) notion of cultural identity, as well as Bhabha’s (1994, 1996) concept of hybridity, I explain how Persian ‘inbetweeners’ look for those closest to their adapted position on the continuum of cultural identity –people with Irish descent for example. The final section highlights the importance of Persian family values when selecting a partner, and elucidates the role of the emotional dimension of relationships for Persians, which appears to be important when choosing a partner, despite differing from what Giddens (1992) describes as ‘the pure relationship’.