In this paper, I examine the understanding of agency among the tribal young women attending college in Pratapgarh (Rajasthan), India. Particularly in light of this shift in their living and academic spaces, I look at how they interpret and perform their agency when it comes to being in a romantic relationship and getting married. It is not uncommon for tribal members to engage in romantic relationships and to seek love marriages. The number of young women migrating for education is increasing. As a result of educational migration, the practice of live-in relationships, romantic relationships, and love marriages has also increased over time among tribal youths. The data for this study were collected over nine months from interviews, group decisions, and participant observation of tribal young women in places they frequent, such as college campuses, hostels, homes, markets, and parks. In addition, the narratives of their parents and other family members are also analyzed to explore this aspect of agency, space, and marriage. In various domains encompassing academic and domestic spheres, my investigation has revealed that tribal young women exhibit agency concerning their involvement in romantic relationships and their preferences for either love or arranged marriages. Notably, a prevailing pattern emerges among most of my participants, regardless of their current romantic status or chosen marital arrangement, which centers around their post-wedding aspirations to pursue their education and attain government employment, thereby fostering financial independence. For these participants, marriage serves as a conduit through which they can sustain their educational pursuits even after entering into matrimony, facilitated by the support and assistance from their partner and in-laws. In addition to providing emotional and moral encouragement, these marital arrangements offer financial assistance, further reinforcing the participants’ willingness to embrace matrimony while pursuing their education.

Author Biography

Deepika Meena is a Ph.D. student at the IIT Gandhinagar, India. Her research focuses on academic migration, everyday experiences of tribal girls, and bringing new social practices to the community of Pratapgarh (Rajasthan). Her research interests are gender studies, tribal development, education, and public policy.