By Bakirathi Mani
Aspiring to Home specializes in well known cultural works created via first- and second-generation South Asians from 1999–2009, together with these by way of writer Jhumpa Lahiri and filmmaker Mira Nair, in addition to public occasions equivalent to the leave out India U.S.A. festival and the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams. reading those varied productions via an interdisciplinary framework, Mani weaves literary readings with ethnography to solve the limitations of shape and style that form how we learn diasporic well known culture.
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Extra resources for Aspiring to Home: South Asians in America
When the Komagata Maru was banned from anchoring in Vancouver and its passengers were refused entry to Canada, the ship’s journey became testament to the unequal claims to citizenship embodied by imperial subjects. Upon its return to Calcutta, British police detained the Komagata Maru for fear of political violence. 24 The Komagata Maru episode emphasizes how imperial discourses of racial diﬀerence intersect with race-based claims to citizenship. Viewed within a broader North American context, linking the history of the Komagata Maru to Thind reframes South Asians as simultaneously colonial subjects and racialized immigrants.
Despite the heterogeneous experience of migration across these communities, however, each ﬁlmmaker portrays immigration as a “choice” between living in South Asia or in the United States, a narrative that is eventually resolved through the protagonists’ identiﬁcation as American citizens. I reframe these documentaries as ethnographic texts by considering the ways in which the ﬁlmmakers and viewers—themselves ﬁrst- and second-generation immigrants—become an integral part of their cinematic projects.
Onstage, such representations of Bombay as a “secular” and “modern” city rely upon the erasure of Muslim, Sikh, and queer characters. Oﬀstage, Bombay Dreams provoked a ﬁerce debate around the meaning of multiculturalism in America. Because the musical was incorporated into the 2004 RNC as part of its entertainment programming, Bombay Dreams was also the site of public protests against the deportation and surveillance 28 Introduction of Muslim Americans after 9/11. While the musical was advertised as “Somewhere You’ve Never Been Before,” for the South Asians who viewed, protested against, and worked in the show, Bombay Dreams produced an intimately familiar sense of place— a place that was located in the United States.