Mixed marriages and transnational families in the intercultural context: A case study of African-Spanish couples in Catalonia

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One of the consequences of international migration and the permanent settlement of immigrants in southern EU countries is the growing number of inter-country marriages and the formation of transnational families. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, this article examines patterns of endogamy and exogamy (i.e. marriage within/outside a particular group or category) among African immigrants in Catalonia, focusing on bi-national Senegalese- and Gambian-Spanish couples. Socio-demographic profiles, transnationality, the dynamics of cultural change or retention, and the formation of transcultural identities are explored. The evidence presented suggests that social-class factors are more important than cultural origins in patterns of endogamy and exogamy, in the dynamics of living together and in the bringing-up of children of mixed unions. Such a conclusion negates culturalists' explanations of endogamy and exogamy while, at the same time, emphasising the role of social actors as active subjects in these processes. I further argue that mixed couples and their offspring deal - to a greater or lesser extent - with multiple localisations and cultural backgrounds (i.e. here and there), rather than experiencing a 'clash between two cultures'. Therefore, it would be a mistake to pretend that multicultural links do not exist and that they cannot be revitalised and functional. The paper starts and ends by addressing the complexities of processes of interculturalism, resisting an interpretation of hybridity and segregation as contradictory or exclusive realities. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-433
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


  • Africa
  • Hybridity
  • Immigration
  • Interculturalism
  • Mixed marriages
  • Social incorporation
  • Spain
  • Transnationalism


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