By Bakirathi Mani
Aspiring to Home makes a speciality of well known cultural works created by way of first- and second-generation South Asians from 1999–2009, together with these by means of writer Jhumpa Lahiri and filmmaker Mira Nair, in addition to public occasions comparable to the pass over India U.S.A. competition and the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams. reading those assorted productions via an interdisciplinary framework, Mani weaves literary readings with ethnography to solve the limitations of shape and style that form how we learn diasporic renowned culture.
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Additional resources for Aspiring to Home: South Asians in America
Reading these various texts also requires us, as scholars and teachers of ethnic studies, to reﬂect upon our own investments in progressive representations of race and ethnicity. Our discomfort with these varied forms of South Asian popular culture emerges not only from its distorted representations of ethnic community, but also from the fact that ethnicity itself is constituted alongside normative ideologies of class and nationhood. 16 Introduction Theorizing South Asian localities thus requires turning away from emancipatory narratives of resistance, and toward more complicit notions of multicultural belonging.
Sen, for example, comes to the United States for a job—not her own but her husband’s. The rather dour Mr. Sen works in a tenure-track position at a local university, and so the couple’s trips to Calcutta as well as their time together in Rhode Island are bound by the calendar of academic life. Their migration is part of the larger wave of professional immigration spurred by the 1965 Hart-Celler Act and its abolition of “national origins” quotas for skilled Asians. This legal provision forms the temporal conditions of Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, both texts that feature stories of middle- and upper-middle-class Bengali immigrants.
Unraveling these dominant representations of race and class thus requires attending to the phenomenological qualities of locality as an emplaced architecture of feeling, diﬀerentially embodied by a heterogeneous group of immigrants. The work of producing locality illustrates the continued allure of multiculturalism, which operates across these texts as a means of inhabiting race- and class-based claims to America. While South Asians continue to invest in nationalist discourses of belonging, the promise of full citizenship remains elusive.
Aspiring to Home: South Asians in America by Bakirathi Mani