Master of Arts
Department or Program
A substantial Indian immigrant population in the U.S. resides beyond the major metropolitan areas. Yet studies on Indian diaspora are focused on big cities, with relatively limited literature on diasporic communities in the smaller cities and towns. This study addresses this gap by understanding how the diasporic ‘Indian’ community in a small U.S. (rural-University) town makes sense of the Indian culture and forms a sense of community, without having the cultural resources of big cities. It explores the way gender, religion, age, race and ethnicity are negotiated in the creation of a ‘home away from home’, and the way cultural importation, negotiation and meaning-making happen in the creation of diasporic communities. The study uses a combination of semi-structured interviews and multi-sited ethnography. The findings suggest that the ‘Indian’ family members ‘have a stake’ in actively investing in community building through both formal and informal processes; both religious and secular tools and a certain re-imagination of the culture ‘back home’ are employed by the community to bind itself together; and that gender of the participants and the racial dynamics within the host society play a role in this process of community formation. However, despite the concerted efforts of the community members, lines of dissidence are active along gender, age, religious practices and ethnic/regional cultural identity of the individuals. Also, an elaborate process of mothers ‘doing culture’ for their children and the simultaneous prescription and proscription of certain activities and roles for the children, serve to suture the community together, just as they have the potential to act as fault lines within the community.