The first critical analysis of contemporary arranged marriage among South Asians in a global context
Arranged marriage is an institution of global fascination—an object of curiosity, revulsion, outrage, and even envy. Marian Aguiar provides the first sustained analysis of arranged marriage as a transnational cultural phenomenon, revealing how its meaning has been continuously reinvented within the South Asian diaspora of Britain, the United States, and Canada. Aguiar identifies and analyzes representations of arranged marriage in an interdisciplinary set of texts—from literary fiction and Bollywood films, to digital and print media, to contemporary law and policy on forced marriage.
Aguiar interprets depictions of South Asian arranged marriage to show we are in a moment of conjugal globalization, identifying how narratives about arranged marriage bear upon questions of consent, agency, state power, and national belonging. Aguiar argues that these discourses illuminate deep divisions in the processes of globalization constructed on a fault line between individualist and collectivist agency and in the process, critiques neoliberal celebrations of “culture as choice” that attempt to bridge that separation. Aguiar advocates situating arranged marriage discourses within their social and material contexts so as to see past reductive notions of culture and grasp the global forces mediating increasingly polarized visions of agency.
This ground-breaking collection of new interviews, critical essays, and commentary explores South Asian identity and culture. Sensitive to the false homogeneity implied by "South Asian," "diaspora," "postcolonial," and "Asian American," the contributors attempt to unpack these terms. By examining the social, economic, and historical particularities of people who live "between the lines"—on and between borders—they reinstate questions of power and privilege, agency and resistance. As South Asians living in the United States and Canada, each to some degree must reflect on the interaction of the personal "I," the collective "we," and the world beyond.
The South Asian scholars gathered together in this volume speak from a variety of theoretical perspectives; in the essays and interviews that cross the boundaries of conventional academic disciplines, they engage in intense, sometimes contentious, debate.
Contributors: Meena Alexander, Gauri Viswanathan, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Amritjit Singh, M. G. Vassanji, Sohail Inayatullah, Ranita Chatterjee, Benita Mehta, Sanjoy Majumder, Mahasveta Barua, Sukeshi Kamra, Samir Dayal, Pushpa Naidu Parekh, Indrani Mitra, Huma Ibrahim, Amitava Kumar, Shantanu DuttaAhmed, Uma Parameswaran.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.
Black Star documents the vibrant Asian Youth Movements in 1970s and 80s Britain who struggled against the racism of the street and the state. Anandi Ramamurthy shows how they drew inspiration from Black Power movements as well as anti-imperialist and workers' struggles across the globe.
Drawing on her intimate knowledge and extensive research, Ramamurthy shows how the struggle to make Britain 'home' led to a broad-based identity where 'black' was a political colour inspiring unity amongst all those struggling against racism.
Ramamurthy documents how by the late 1980s this broad based black identity disintegrated as Islamophobia became a new form of racism. In the process the legacy of the Asian Youth Movements has been largely hidden. Black Star retrieves this history and demonstrates its importance for political struggles today.
Khan combines ethnographic research she conducted in Trinidad over the course of a decade with extensive archival research to explore how Hindu and Muslim Indo-Trinidadians interpret authority, generational tensions, and the transformations of Indian culture in the Caribbean through metaphors of mixing. She demonstrates how ambivalence about the desirability of a callaloo nation—a multicultural society—is manifest around practices and issues, including rituals, labor, intermarriage, and class mobility. Khan maintains that metaphors of mixing are pervasive and worth paying attention to: the assumptions and concerns they communicate are key to unraveling who Indo-Trinidadians imagine themselves to be and how identities such as race and religion shape and are shaped by the politics of multiculturalism.
In Graphic Migrations, Kavita Daiya provides a literary and cultural archive of refugee stories and experiences to respond to the question “What is created?” after decolonization and the 1947 Partition of India. She explores how stories of Partition migrations shape and influence the political and cultural imagination of secularism and contribute to gendered citizenship for South Asians in India and its diasporas.
Daiya analyzes modern literature, Bollywood films, Margaret Bourke-White’s photography, advertising, and print culture to show how they memorialize or erase refugee experiences. She also uses oral testimonies of Partition refugees from Hong Kong, South Asia, and North America to draw out the tensions of the nation-state, ethnic discrimination, and religious difference. Employing both Critical Refugee Studies and Feminist Postcolonial Studies frameworks, Daiya traces the cultural, affective, and political legacies of Partition migrations.
The precarity generated by modern migration and expressed through public culture prompts a rethinking of how dominant media represents gendered migrants and refugees. Graphic Migrations demands that we redraw the boundaries of how we tell the story of modern world history and the intricately interwoven, intimate production of statelessness and citizenship across the world’s communities.
Gopinath juxtaposes diverse texts to indicate the range of oppositional practices, subjectivities, and visions of collectivity that fall outside not only mainstream narratives of diaspora, colonialism, and nationalism but also most projects of liberal feminism and gay and lesbian politics and theory. She considers British Asian music of the 1990s alongside alternative media and cultural practices. Among the fictional works she discusses are V. S. Naipaul’s classic novel A House for Mr. Biswas, Ismat Chughtai’s short story “The Quilt,” Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy, and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night. Analyzing films including Deepa Mehta’s controversial Fire and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, she pays particular attention to how South Asian diasporic feminist filmmakers have reworked Bollywood’s strategies of queer representation and to what is lost or gained in this process of translation. Gopinath’s readings are dazzling, and her theoretical framework transformative and far-reaching.
A Patchwork Shawl sheds light on the lives of a segment of the U.S. immigrant population that has long been relegated to the margins. It focuses on women's lives that span different worlds: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the United States. This collection of essays by and about South Asian women in America challenges stereotypes by allowing women to speak in their own words. Together they provide discerning insights into the reconstruction of immigrant patriarchy in a new world, and the development of women's resistance to that reconstruction. Shamita Das DasGupta's introduction also acquaints readers with the psychological topography of the South Asian community.
A Patchwork Shawl considers topics from re-negotiation of identity to sexuality, violence to intimacy, occupations to organizing within the community. The essays bear witness to women's negotiations for independent identities, their claim to their own bodies, and the right to choose relationships based on their own histories and truths. They bring new understanding to the intersection of gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and class.
Over the past 20 years, much work has focused on domestic violence, yet little attention has been paid to the causes, manifestations, and resolutions to marital violence among ethnic minorities, especially recent immigrants. Margaret Abraham’s Speaking the Unspeakable is the first book to focus on South Asian women’s experiences of domestic violence, defined by the author as physical, sexual, verbal, mental, or economic coercion, power, or control perpetrated on a woman by her spouse or extended kin. Abraham explains how immigration issues, cultural assumptions, and unfamiliarity with American social, legal, economic, and other institutional systems, coupled with stereotyping, make these women especially vulnerable to domestic violence.
Abraham lets readers hear the voices of abused South Asian women. Through their stories, we learn of their weaknesses and strengths, and of their experiences of domestic violence within the larger cultural, social, economic, and political context. We see both the individual strategies of resistance against their abusers as well as the pivotal role South Asian organizations play in helping these women escape abusive relationships.
Abraham also describes the central role played by South Asian activism as it emerged in the 1980s in the United States, and addresses the ideas and practices both within and outside of the South Asian community that stereotype, discriminate, and oppress South Asians in their everyday lives.
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