American Karma: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Indian Diaspora

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The Indian American community is one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in the United States. Unlike previous generations, its members are marked by a high degree of training as medical doctors, engineers, scientists, and university professors. American Karma draws on participant observation and in-depth interviews to explore how these highly skilled professionals have been inserted into the racial dynamics of American society and transformed into "people of color." Focusing on first-generation, middle-class Indians in American suburbia, it also sheds light on how these transnational immigrants themselves come to understand and negotiate their identities.

Bhatia forcefully contends that to fully understand migrant identity and cultural formation it is essential that psychologists and others think of selfhood as firmly intertwined with socio-cultural factors such as colonialism, gender, language, immigration, and race-based immigration laws. American Karma offers a new framework for thinking about the construction of selfhood and identity in the context of immigration. This innovative approach advances the field of psychology by incorporating critical issues related to the concept of culture, including race, power, and conflict, and also provides key insights to those in anthropology, sociology, human development, and migrant studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Bhatia offers a well historicised, theoretically astute analysis of the racial, cultural and ethnic identities of Indian immigrants and their families living in predominantly white suburbs of New England.”
-South Asian Diaspora

“A productive move in developing new directions in the study of desire, agency, and ambiguous inequality among immigrant populations in the contemporary Americas.”
-Aisha Khan,New York University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sunil Bhatia is Associate Professor of Human Development at Connecticut College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
American Karma: Race, Place, and Identity in the Indian Diaspora     12
Qualitative Inquiry and Psychology: Doing Ethnography in Transnational Cultures     42
Des-Pardes in the American Suburbia: Narratives from the Suburban Indian Diaspora     74
Saris, Chutney Sandwiches, and "Thick Accents": Constructing Difference     112
Racism and Glass Ceilings: Repositioning Difference     155
Analyzing Assignations and Assertions: The Enigma of Brown Privilege     184
Imagining Homes: Identity in Transnational Diasporas     220
Notes     235
Bibliography     243
Index     257
About the Author     271

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