A dramatic shift away from arranged marriage and capture marriage is underway in the village of Junigau, Nepal. Traditionally prohibited from courting in person, young people today are applying their newly acquired literacy skills to the art of love letter writing. And as a result, the practice of elopement is on the rise.
Using a rich ethnographic style, Laura M. Ahearn discusses the implications of this emerging love letter correspondence and traces out the broader ramifications for literacy, gender, love, personhood, and social change in Nepalese society. Her close examination of marriage practices reveals the microprocesses of social transformation as this shift is occurring - especially how villagers' own conceptions of their abilities and responsibilities are being affected by Western-influenced understandings and practices.