The American Dream: An Indian Version in the Age of Globalization

By Sudata DebChaudhury.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is part of a longitudinal study of Indians who initially arrived in the United States in pursuit of a dream for the specific purpose of fulfilling academic and/or professional goals and who eventually elasticized their stay as they became permanent residents or naturalized citizens. While literary works abound with poignant tales of the trauma of adjustment, the relative smooth transition into the middle-class mosaic, or the fierce retention of ethnic distinctiveness, there are limited historical and sociological analyses of the Indian immigrant experience, fewer still of the professional Indian women’s immigrant experience, and none about the structural-cultural dichotomy of the potential immigrant who has not quite burnt his (or her) bridges behind him (her). While the longer study takes into account both the historical and demographic changes in the pattern, nature, type, and extent of Indian immigration since WWI era to the present, this paper focuses on case studies of the post–1965 generation of Indian immigrants who came for the next three decades, who had no definitive plan of adopting the United States as their country of residence, but who eventually did. Their structural assimilation and cultural distinctiveness is juxtaposed against the post-millennium transnational group. While the statistical data is primarily collated from census records, the behavioral and attitudinal components of the profile are based on data gathered through participant observation, survey responses, and independent interviews. Respondents provided information about ancestry, patterns of socialization, motivation to relocate to the United States temporarily, their imagined and actual role in the country of adoption, and the problems of alienation and adaptation. This data is then analyzed keeping in view the intersection of class, gender, and now the post-millennium transnational in an age of globalization. In the course of this analysis, the triple marginalization of the Indian professional woman remains constant, while the American Dream undergoes a redefinition twice; once during the transition from the pre-immigrant to the immigrant stage, and a second time, now, in the imagery and life-style of the newest transnational in the age of globalization in a new milieu, even a new terrain, India. With the exponential rate of increase in the return of the prodigal, now back to India where jobs and gadgets abound, has the American dream turned full circle?

Keywords: Indian Immigrants, Diasporic Indian Voices, Ethnogenesis, Indian Women in Academia in USA, Professional Indian Women in USA, Globalization

Global Studies Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.121-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 713.626KB).

Dr. Sudata DebChaudhury

Professor, Department of Social Sciences, San Diego Mesa College, San Diego, CA, USA

Sudata DebChaudhury is a professor of History in the Department of Social Sciences at San Diego Mesa College. She has done extensive research on the political and psychological impact of Japanese Imperialism on nationalist movements in South and Southeast Asia, on Asian women in politics, and on Indian immigrant experience in the United States. She is on the Advisory Committee on Women’s Studies, and is Chair of the Human Rights Awareness Committee in her campus. She is currently working on completing a manuscript on the impact of war on children. Beyond the classroom, she is actively involved in human rights issues such as the trafficking of women and children, and children in armed conflict. She has also published poems and short stories, and her plays have been staged in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

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