Journal article Open Access

Negotiating Borders of the Indian Diasporic Identity

Malstead, Kavita

Transcending the boundaries of a singular culture can prove challenging.
For transmigrant individuals, this requires a grappling with
the cultures of the countries both newly entered into and left behind.
A hybridization takes shape in the midst of this struggle, an ongoing
formation and reformation of identity. Globalization as a recent
world phenomenon has led to an increase in migration, facilitating
interactions between people of different cultures, ethnicities and geographical
locations. As migrants collide with differing world views,
they must reevaluate their identities in the midst of an ever more cosmopolitan
world. Interrogating the question of identity formation
among the Indian diaspora, this paper focuses on Bengali immigrants
who have made their home in the United States. Basing this investigation
on Interpreter of Maladies by Indian migrant author, Jhumpa
Lahiri, these stories act as case studies for analyzing the experiences
of the Indian migrant population. Homi Bhabha’s concept of hybridity,
working in conjunction with Mary Louise Pratt’s notion of
autoethnography and Stuart Hall’s understanding of diasporic identity,
constitute the grounding theories. Through these texts, an understanding
of identity is developed that necessitates the dismantling of
binaries such as Self/Other which support essentialist understandings
of cultural and diasporic identity.

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