Synopses & Reviews
"Dhooleka Raj takes us into the Punjabi Hindu world in London in a very personal way, throwing light on the development of heightened religious identities in the diaspora and on Indian immigrant concerns with racial, national, and transnational identities. This engaging ethnography will enable better analytical comparisons across the Indian diasporic world."Karen Leonard, author of The South Asian Americans
"A trenchantly written, closely observed account of the complexities that lurk behind the innocent-sounding question that frames this revelatory book. In Where Are You From?, Raj brings the situated engagement of the committed ethnographer to bear critically on fashionable simplifications about diaspora, identity, and the nation-state. She challenges, in a no-nonsense and grounded fashion, both our own theoretical pontifications and official platitudes about what constitutes 'British' and 'Asian' identity. In unraveling an exclusionary rhetoric of culture, she shines a much-needed searchlight onto the mutually supportive hypocrisies and uncured sores of postcolonial sensibility, and does so right at the heart of one of their major historical and cultural sources."Michael Herzfeld, author of Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State
" A critical and insightful ethnographic study on a timely and consequential topic. Where Are You From? is an important and original contribution both to the anthropology of ethnicity and to critical studies of multiculturalism."James Ferguson, author of Expectations of Modernity
"An inventive, insightful, discerning look at what it means to live transnationally, sometimes without ever crossing a border. In this compelling account of global connection, multicultural politics and migration stories relate back to histories of dislocation, nation-states, 'new racism,' and communities made in the moment, rather than a 'homeland' in any simple sense. By freeing ethnicity from the trope of loss and the trap of cultural nostalgia, Raj encourages readers to think afresh about why difference can be experienced so very differently."Kath Weston, author of Gender in Real Time and Families We Choose
"Against attacks on ethnicity studies in Britain, Raj's book contains illuminating ethnographic vignettes highlighting the long-term cultural and historical trends that set affluent Hindu Punjabi immigrant-settlers in London apart from fellow Punjabi Sikhs and Muslims, and, indeed, from other British Hindus, and from Black and White Britons."Pnina Werbner, Professor of Social Anthropology, Keele University, United Kingdom
Dhooleka S. Raj explores the complexities of ethnic minority cultural change in this incisive examination of first- and second-generation middle-class South Asian families living in London. Challenging prevalent understandings of ethnicity that equate community, culture, and identity, Raj considers how transnational ethnic minorities are circumscribed by nostalgia for culture.
Where Are You From? argues that the nostalgia for culture obscures the complexities of change in migrant minority lives and limits the ways the politics of diversity can be imagined by the nation. Based on ethnographic research with Indian migrants and their children, this book examines how categories of identity, culture, community, and nation are negotiated and often equated.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-256) and index.
About the Author
Dhooleka S. Raj is a Visiting Scholar in Women's Studies at Harvard University. She was formerly a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and Smuts-Hinduja Fellow at the Center for South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge.
Table of Contents
1. Questions of Ethnicity
2. Being Vilayati, Becoming Asian: Keeping up with the Kapurs, the Chawlas, the Kalias, and the Aggarwals in London
3. "I Am From Nowhere": Partition and Being Punjabi
4. Becoming a Hindu Community
5. The Search for a Suitable Boy
6. Becoming British Asian: Intergenerational Negotiations of Racism
7. Being British, Becoming a Person of Indian Origin
8. "Where Are You Originally From?" Multiculturalism, Citizenship, and Transnational Differences