Publication Date

Summer 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




A.J. Faas


Migration, Refugee Studies, Transnationalism

Subject Areas

Cultural anthropology; African studies


Many South Sudanese refugees who have resettled in the USA have actively sought to maintain their unique cultural identity while simultaneously working to integrate into American society through the pursuit of formal higher education and successful careers. One of the most interesting developments within this population is the establishment and maintenance of transna- tional families. The process for marriage is economically tiresome and, due to strict immigration policies, often compels family members to live transnational lives. Systems of transnational mar- riage—often arranged by families—and married life allow Sudanese refugees living in the USA to continue important cultural practices, speak their native languages within their homes and communities, and to create Sudanese families. Despite the economic strain these efforts have on the relationships between husbands and wives, they can be culturally empowering to members of this community and their families that live elsewhere in the world. Even decades after resettle- ment in the USA, their ties to their homeland and to their people still remain top priorities in their lives. Efforts of resettlement and the attempts to continue cultural and social ties to their homeland despite time and distance are altering the role of family in Sudanese culture and the continuation of traditional cultural practices. The goals of this research are to describe and ana- lyze the practice of transnational marriage and to examine the extent that resettlement in the USA is changing the structured gender roles in South Sudanese communities.