Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Kumkum Sangari

Committee Members

Rachel Spilka, Mary Louise Buley-Meissner, Gwynne Kennedy, Chia Youyee Vang

Keywords

aging, diaspora, happiness, homeland, India, migration

Abstract

Susan Stanford Friedman writes that “Home comes into being most powerfully when it is gone, lost, left behind, desired and imagined” (202). My dissertation addresses notions of home, nostalgia, happiness and aging often found in South Asian diasporic fiction, and from the results of a qualitative study I conducted in which I interviewed five migrant couples who moved to the US from India for educational and professional purposes in the 1960s and 1970s. This project draws on and contributes toward the fields of Migration and Diaspora Studies, Transnational Studies and South Asian Studies. My research aims to explore more uncommonly discussed issues pertaining to first-generation migrants such as the challenges they faced upon arriving in the US, her/his experiences adjusting to the US, and how the migrants in my study perceive and locate the idea of home. Moreover, my dissertation focuses on issues of happiness and (arranged) marriage as represented in the genre of “ladki-lit” and in what I call “generational fiction” as well as ideas on this topic as discussed in the narratives of the participants in my study. Finally, my dissertation explores aging and care in the transnational family and how the migrants, both in fiction and in my study, reconcile aging in a place that is now considered to be home. In doing this, I argue that the migrant figure, though often discussed as being nostalgic and “dwelling in displacement” is only one way of seeing the migrant, and that scholarship could benefit from exploring migrants as changing and transforming over the course of time. In my dissertation, I use the idea of counterpoint, a multiplying of ideas, to bring together the representations of South Asian migrants in fiction and the self-representations of the migrants I interviewed in order to see how these representations can work together to complicate and expand the understanding of first-generation South Asian migrants in the US.

Available for download on Sunday, May 24, 2020

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