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Women in waiting? Singlehood, marriage, and family in Singapore


  • Kamalini Ramdas


The author engages with narratives of graduate single Indian Singaporean women based in global cities for work, namely Singapore, Melbourne, and London. She interrogates how and why these single women are often portrayed as incomplete, occupying a cusp where they are perceived as waiting for marriage. The author makes use of secondary data and twenty-nine in-depth interviews with women based overseas and in Singapore to examine critically discourses of family, marriage, and ‘singlehood’. She contests how single Indian women are constructed as ‘women in waiting’, and the hegemonic constructions of marriage and family that underlie such a discourse of waiting. By examining the experiences of the women in multiple cities, the author reveals how the women’s experiences of singlehood disrupt discourses of waiting emerging from the context of the Singaporean state, Singapore-Indian community and their parents. Specifically, it is argued that singlehood cannot be understood without reference to the family, and a case is made for engaging in a politics of waiting which shows how gender, sexuality, and heteronormativity enable and constrain single Indian women’s lives in Singapore and abroad, through the use of ‘punctuations’. The author thus shows how singlehood is constituted as a struggle between state, community, family, and the individual across space and time. Keywords: single women, waiting, heteronormativity, family, singlehood, marriage, time, space

Suggested Citation

  • Kamalini Ramdas, 2012. "Women in waiting? Singlehood, marriage, and family in Singapore," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(4), pages 832-848, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:4:p:832-848

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