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Situating middle class identities: American college women of South Asian descent

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This article explores the ways in which American college women of South Asian descent discuss their positioning as middle class. The article analyses participants' talk around class as evidence of embeddedness in American class discourses and a complex and contradictory scheme of identification that implicates other identities like gender, race and culture. Respondents often articulated class using the American Dream, where the social capital their parents immigrated with is left unexamined in favour of a narrative of 'rags to riches'. Young women also used other constructs like 'stability', 'race' and 'resources' to make reference to class, but also to participate in an American discursive silence around it. Finally, the notion of a drive towards professionalism as an immigrant goal is examined, and it is suggested that this serves to further deflect discussions of class. This article synthesises theories of diaspora, 'translocational positioning' and habitus, and examines the production of American class discourse as a performance of an American middle class habitus.
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Keywords: American identities; South Asian women; class; habitus; immigration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Sciences, University of Hull, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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