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From Religion to Ethnicity: The Identity of Immigrant and Second Generation Indian Jains in the United States

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This study analyses the changing identity of immigrant and second generation Indian Jains. Using surveys and interviews in the United States and Mumbai, India, we find that Jains, a distinctive religious minority in India, acquire an ethnic identity of 'Indian' in the United States despite concerted efforts to maintain a religiously based identity. Social practices developed by Jains to maintain social cohesion after domestic migration within India actually aid in the creation of ethnic identity after transnational migration to the United States. The geographic context of these immigrants in the United States, including physical settlement patterns and interactions with non-Jain Indian immigrants, also lead this group to express greater solidarity with 'Indians' than with 'Jains'.

Keywords: Indian immigrants; Jains; diaspora; ethnicity; religious identity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Dartmouth College USA

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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