What is Maharashtrian Pragmatism

147 pen coined by the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Americans. Pan-Asian was and is still often called, especially East Asian. A real tradition of inter-ethnic cooperation, which integrates all Asian communities, could not develop in this way. For the Indian American community, there is also a great phenotypic distance to other Asians, for which the skin color is the decisive factor. The skin color is therefore not only a decisive criterion in contact with the white majority population, it also determines the relationship to other Asian immigrant groups. People from South Asia do not correspond to the traditional image of an Asian immigrant, which is often shaped by stereotypes such as the "Oriental". The “racial gap” increases the uncertainty in dealing with other Asian immigrant groups (Kibria 1998: 74-76). The mutual feeling of not belonging prevents an overarching self-classification as Asian not only in the case of the Indian population. It is no coincidence that the Indo-American community has struggled for so long to be officially classified as an ethnic minority in its own right. A pan-ethnic cooperation or even identity of all Asian Americans is by no means “natural” or “inevitable”; it remains difficult, especially in view of the complicated framework conditions, and is still more "dream" and "hope" than reality today (Danico & Ng 2004: 110-112). As an offer of identity, the idea of ​​pan-ethnic “Asia-Americanism” remains limited and, if at all, only gains a certain relevance in the second Indo-American generation. 7.2.2 The second generation The second generation of the PIO, who was born and raised in the United States, can fall back on a much larger reservoir of possible identity constructions than the parent generation of the NRI. In particular, they are often less shaped by the national and religious antagonisms of the previous generation, which sometimes "exported" the conflicts from South Asia, for example between India and Pakistan or Hindus and Muslims, to the diaspora. This opens up the possibility of a “South Asian” (as opposed to “Indian” or “Pakistani”) identity for these Indian Americans (Salam 2003: 6). Panethnic identifications are facilitated by the PIO's specific worlds of experience: “Having grown up as youth of color in the United States, unlike their parents, their search for categories of belonging are [sic!] Necessarily shaped by the ethnic identity frameworks available to them in the United States and by their experiences of growing up as minorities; the category of “Asian American” is a racial project now available to Indian Ameri- 148 cans as a panethnic identification, as are multiculturalist constructions of ethnicity […] “(Maira 2005: 239) There are interesting continuities in many areas of the living environment of the Indian Americans, but also differences between the first and second generation. NRI and PIO often correspond to different degrees to social acculturation expectations, which are composed of an often very indefinite national identity and the supposedly typical “American values”. Table 7.4: Acculturation of the first and second generation in comparison National identity and "American values" 1st generation / NRI 2nd generation / PIO WASP White skin color or extensive integration into "white" living environment (through friendship or marriage) "People of Color" ; Endogamy "People of Color"; often unconscious endogamy Accent-free English as mother tongue “Brown Voice” Adaptation Religious creed (model: Christian Protestantism) Indian religions (Hindus, Sikhs etc.); Muslims Indian Religions; Muslims; converted Christians; also: no confession, agnostic STATE FRAMEWORK Acceptance of the political order and the legal system seldom reservations Adaptation Acceptance of the economic system (capitalism, consumerism) often reservations Adaptation CULTURAL NORMS Economic independence “Model Minority” “Model Minority” Social integration Self-sufficiency; often social isolation maintaining “ethnic boundaries” individualism reservations; strong family orientation adaptation; Conflict heterosexual marriage almost always; often strict rejection of homosexuality to a large extent; little tolerance towards homosexuality Source: Dhingra 2008: 42-45, 53; own compilation. 149 For the majority of the Indo-American community, both in the first and in the second generation, skin color remains an insurmountable obstacle compared to immigrant groups of European origin, as the assessment of a PIO shows: "[T] he culture, religion, and skin color will make us distinct. Europeans assimilate within a couple of generations. It’s both us keeping ourselves distinct and [the] mainstream keeping us at a distance. ”(Quoted from Dhingra 2008: 49) Education, economic success and professional prestige in no way change the open or latent framework conditions of racist discrimination (Bhatia 2007: 147). The dominant role of skin color may even prevent acculturation in many areas. There have been repeated reports of exclusion from social activities due to manifest racist concerns. Sometimes white parents refuse to let their children play with boys and girls of Indian origin: “All they see is color” (Bhatia 2007: 32). For Indians and Americans of Indian origin, skin color creates a “third space” between (socio-economic) integration / belonging and (ethnic-racial) exclusion / non-belonging, both in the first and in the second generation. The uncertainty of one's own position in the social fabric of the United States, which often results from this, manifests itself in recurring questions: “Am I an authentic Indian, American, or both? Do I belong here or there or nowhere? Am I black, brown, or white? ”(Bhatia 2007: 35). Integration into the “white” world can often only be achieved through exogamous marriage. However, only a few Indian Americans discard the connections to their origins in this way. In many cases, NRIs come to the United States either already married or have already made marriage vows in India. Even if this is not the case, the Hindus in particular often place great value on the fact that the spouse comes from India or at least from the Indo-American community. The participation of the respective parents in the arrangements of the marriage initiation is usually a matter of course, even if they still reside in India. The second-generation PIO born in the USA shows a different picture at first sight: Due to socialization in an American environment, arranged marriages are mostly seen as traditional relics of the parents' generation. Nevertheless, their expectations of the future spouses of their children are of course clearly defined, especially with regard to ethnicity and religion, but also in the area of ​​regional origin and language, as the statement of an immigrant from Kerala makes clear: “I would not like it if my son or daughter were to marry outside of our religion, because this is who we are. If you marry outside your religion you will lose your identity. Hinduism is a way of life and intermarriage of different religions causes confusion on both sides. I would also prefer a Malayalee because that is our culture. If a person comes into our 150 family from outside Kerala, they will not be familiar with the customs, values ​​and beliefs that we possess. They won’t even know how to act in front of elders. Our parents will not be able to communicate with our child's spouse, and this is very bad. ”(Quoted from Jacob & Thaku 2000: 237) In spite of or because of these arguments, however, the second generation often begins with the western ideal of a romantic love marriage juxtaposed traditional endogamy of the Indian community (Salam 2003: 7). Sometimes the "rules of the game" of parental control are deliberately violated, for example by going out with (white) American adolescents. Especially for girls of Indian origin, this is often a serious violation of the moral guidelines of the NRI community, since Western "dating" is often equated with premarital sex, not only for conservative Indians, and thus the ideal of a virgin wedding is viewed as endangered (Sinha 2005: 4). Solid friendships and sexual relationships are therefore becoming a significant potential problem area in the generation conflict, especially for female PIOs. The often only acceptable form of "dating" according to parental ideas is tied to strict conditions: The partner chosen and "introduced" by the parents should be of Indian or Indian descent and of course of marriageable age, which is usually when they start college is set. The explicit purpose of the rendezvous is to initiate marriage; serious marriage intentions are therefore assumed (Sinha 2005: 14-15). This type of appointment is contrary to the ideas of many PIOs of romantic love and free, even exogamous partner choice. The conflicting values ​​of the first and second generation often lead to a culture of silence and secrecy in which crucial questions cannot (or cannot) be addressed (Salam 2003: 13; Sinha 2005: 15-17). While arranged, traditional marriages are largely rejected in the PIO generation, there is often an unconscious adherence to endogamy. The beginning of their studies plays an important role here: Many young people of Indian origin do not grow up in ethnic enclaves but in “white” suburbs and therefore often have little contact with other PIOs apart from the festivals and cultural or religious gatherings organized by their parents . This is changing forever at college. This is where second-generation Indians often meet for the first time, beyond parental control, with students of the same age of Indian origin. These ethnically shaped social spaces now allow them to develop their own ethnic identity. The own community is often “rediscovered” (Salam 2003: 14). Organizational structures such as the Indian Student Associations (ISA) that can be found on almost every campus are of great importance here. These contact spaces facilitate and prejudice an endogamous choice of partner. In addition, there are always semi-arranged marriages, often with the consent or even at the request of the second generation. Only relatively few marriages are made completely independently of the parent generation, as the following interview excerpt shows as an example: “I feel like only about one or two out of 20 or 25 weddings that my parents have gone to in the last five years have been like that. Most have been “Mom and Dad I can't find anybody” at which point a more traditional, not arranged marriage, but the Americanized version of, “Hey, we know this girl in such and such, she is in this school and we know her family "and there is [a] connection." (quoted from Sinha 2005: 14) These semi-arranged marriages always allow the PIO a right of veto and still contribute to the maintenance of endogamy even in the second generation. They often form a compromise solution that is acceptable to both sides if the free choice of partner is unsuccessful. In addition, the PIOs also occasionally show an explicit desire for ethnically and religiously homogeneous marriages, which are also linked to questions of losing or maintaining their own Indian identity. This can be done pragmatically after a phase of interethnic acquaintances and relationships. In the end, however, the common ethnic, cultural and, above all, religious background is often the most important criterion, as a young Indo-American woman explains: “It would be very important that I marry a Hindu guy because that is who I am. If I were to marry somebody outside my religion, I would lose a sense of myself. Right now I'll go out with different guys but when it comes down to it, I have to marry a Hindu. It's important to my parents and I wouldn't want to let them down. "(Quoted from Jacob & Thaku 2000: 241-242) The role and importance of the English language has already been discussed several times. Most of the first generation of the NRI have excellent language skills, but many of them have the unmistakable Indian dialect, which is described as "Brown Voice". This distinct form of pronunciation is often the cause of stereotyping, as shown in particular by the well-known cartoon character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the series "The Simpsons" (Davé 2005). In addition, the Indian accent can sometimes have negative consequences in social and professional life, which is why some NRIs try to “Americanize” their language and even attend special language courses for this (Bhatia 2007: 131-138). For the second generation PIOs who were born and raised in the USA, this linguistic form of ethnic marking no longer plays a role. They are fully adapted in this area and usually speak accent-free English. Even beyond the ideal of Christian Protestantism, a religious creed, of whatever kind, is an integral part of the social norm in the United States. Religion is generally seen as indispensable for imparting moral values, for example in bringing up children (cf. Dhingra 2008: 60). The isolated conversions from Indian religions to Christian beliefs in the second generation (a well-known example is the Indian-born governor of Louisiana, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal) are therefore offset by the increased proportion of agnostics and atheists in this group and lead in the Sum at a similar level of acculturation as in the first generation. On the other hand, there are clear differences between the generations in the acceptance of the state and social framework. The United States' political and legal system is largely unreservedly recognized by both the NRI and the PIO. There is only very occasional criticism of the political structures in the USA among the first generation of Indian immigrants, which, however, is mostly tied to specific occasions (i.e. no fundamental opposing positions manifested) and often thematizes American society, which is sometimes perceived as overly liberal. In contrast to these rather marginal reservations, the economic system of the United States is being questioned far more frequently. In particular, aggressive capitalism and strong consumerism are criticized and often contrasted with a less materialistic philosophy of life that is marked as “Indian”. Here, too, however, the second generation is almost completely adapted and hardly questions the economic framework in the USA. It is also interesting that the often more critical first generation came to the United States, of course, and especially for economic reasons. Both NRI and PIO meet the requirement of economic autonomy and independence from state aid almost without exception. The cliché of the “model minority” proves to be absolutely correct in many areas of their socio-economic profile. With regard to their social contacts, the separation of the “Indian” from the “American world” is often a matter of course for the first generation of immigrants. Social activities often take place in ethnic social spaces. In contrast, PIO often try to unite the “best of both worlds”, which manifests itself more in the form of a double affiliation to two separate cultures than in a mixture of both spheres, as the statement of an Indian student shows: “I think I balance it pretty well. I mean, I am American, but I also hold onto Indian culture. Like, I do cultural dancing and I go to the temple. I celebrate the holidays. I still wear the traditional outfits when we go to weddings and stuff like that. I like that. I like having that separation of like being American and I also have that different culture too. I like having them both. ”(Quoted from Sinha 2005: 10) The at least partially internalized separation of both worlds of experience and life in the second generation is shown, among other things, in the great popularity of ethnic organizations such as the Indian American Network Association (IANA), which consciously ties in with ISA activities and also offers a platform for PIO contacts and “Indian” activities in the period after college (Dhingra 2008: 50-51).This maintenance of “ethnic boundaries” can, however, also be interpreted as a particularly consistent implementation of the American national concept of individual autonomy and, in particular, of unconditional religious freedom. By emphasizing their Indian origins and their cultural and spiritual heritage, the PIO would become true Americans (Dhingra 2008: 54-55). Individualism and self-determination are already an essential part of the American canon of values. This reveals an important area of ​​conflict between the first and second generation. While the NRI often maintain a strong family relationship and subordinate individual interests to a family sense of community, the experiences of the PIO in the socialization processes in high school and college emphasize self-awareness and personal responsibility: "I was constantly bombarded with conflicting messages and it's hard to decide which one is the correct one. At home we are taught that we must share everything and that I must always consider the welfare of the whole family and every decision that is made is made with the consent of everyone and involving everyone. Individuality isn't something taught in the Indian culture and everyone is encouraged to not be one but rather be part of the family unit. Individuality, I was taught, was selfishness. ”(Gawle 1999) The West American idea of ​​self-realization is often portrayed as excessive, egotistical hedonism. This is contrasted with a morally superior system of family orientation that is often explicitly identified as Indian. In addition to a strongly emphasized sense of togetherness in the family, essential elements are above all the unconditional respect for the elderly and especially for the parents as well as a mentality of subordination and self-sacrifice, which is taken for granted (Bhatia 2007: 81). As a result, young Indian Americans often experience an alienation from their own parental home in the process of growing up, especially when they take individual paths in life that are not (cannot) accepted by their parents. An almost classic area of ​​conflict here is the choice of subject, in which the ideas of the different generations can sometimes differ greatly from one another. One field in which neither the NRI nor the PIO are particularly progressive is the tolerance of different sexual identities and orientations. The Indo-American community thus largely corresponds to the expectations of the majority society, which in the USA propagates the traditional ideal of marriage between men and women, but brings homosexual Indian Americans in particular into difficult conflict situations and identity dilemmas (Burkhart 2008). In a culture of homophobia and partially open hostility to gays and lesbians, in which homosexuality is sometimes viewed as an unnatural, western perversion, even "coming out" often represents an almost insurmountable hurdle. Open 154 homosexual NRIs and PIOs have to fear getting out of theirs ethnic community and thus also to lose the home of their Indian identity. Often they have the well-founded fear of ultimately having to choose between the Indo-American community and their sexuality (Roy 1998: 171-175). The solution to this particular identity dilemma can only be found in greater tolerance and openness on the part of the Indian American community. The increasingly visible work of relevant interest groups such as the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA) is a positive sign. 7.2.3 Multiple identities There is no uniform image of a common Indo-American identity. There is obviously no monolithic, homogeneous cultural and national identity of the Indian American community (Bhatia 2007: 37). Instead, there is an identity mix made up of different components, which simultaneously and in parallel includes completely different patterns of meaning. The economist and Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen, himself a foreign Indian, clarifies this apparent dilemma: “As far as I'm concerned, I can be described at the same time as an Asian, a citizen of India, a Bengali with Bangladeshi ancestry, a resident of the United States or England, an economist, an amateur in the philosophical field, author, Sanskritist, staunch supporter of secularism and democracy, man, feminists, heterosexuals, defenders of the rights of gays and lesbians, people with an areligious lifestyle and Hindu history, non-Brahmins and unbelievers, what the life after Death (and, if someone is interested, also “life before birth”) concerns. ”(Sen 2007: 33-34) These“ multiple identities ”(Dhingra 2007) are of course by no means mutually exclusive; they are only effective to different degrees depending on the context. Identity can therefore always be reconstructed anew depending on the situation, whereby the geographical location is of essential importance, as the following example shows: “In India I was Bengali. Our neighbors were Tamil and Punjabi and Telegu. When the football teams, East Bengal and Mohan Bagan, clashed on the field, even our Bengali identity split down the middle as we teamed up as either “Bangals” (those who hailed from erstwhile East Bengal and supported the club of the same name) or “Ghotis” (from West Bengal) who supported Mohan Bagan. Somewhere along the line we were vaguely aware that we were Indian too - we were Indian when the prime minister was being given a redcarpet welcome in some foreign country, we were Indian when the cricket team won a match, and we were Indian when the prime minister of some neighboring country accused India of meddling in its affairs. (But if the cricket team lost, we were quick to attribute it to too many Telegus or Maharashtrians or Punjabis on the team.)