Why the Diaspora is not as interesting to me

A friend of the podcast mentioned with a bit of surprise that so much of it was focused on India as opposed to the Indian Diaspora (you can substitute “South Asia(n)” into “India(n)”). When this weblog was started at the end of 2010 it was probably more Diasporic in orientation. That was the era when Sepia Mutiny was winding down, after all.

Today I’m not as interested in Diasporic topics for two reasons. First, the Diasporic identity in the USA is pretty stable and clear. Most Indian Americans are basically Americans with their own particular cultural twist or accent.  This is widely understood. In particular, culturally young Indian Americans have assimilated to the same broad identity as liberal white Americans (with some exceptions). The big questions of who and what brown Americans are going to be seem to have been answered.

The second issue is that India is a bigger deal today than it was in the 2000s. From a purely anthropological perspective, what’s going on with 1.3 billion Indians (+ 400 million other assorted South Asians) is more interesting to me than the concerns of tens of millions of Diasporic browns.

(the exception is something like an interview with an India American going through the modern arranged marriage; in contrast, telling me you only date other South Asians is not too interesting, as it’s basically what everyone else does, but brown)

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7 Replies to “Why the Diaspora is not as interesting to me”

  1. I have to agree with Razib…*IF* Indian Diasporans are interesting, they are interesting in spite of their backgrounds, not because of them. They are otherwise basically Jews with a darker paint job, but less interested in life outside making money and getting their Lexuses and suburban McMansions…which makes them much less interesting than Jews hahaha.

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    1. As a diasporan, have to agree. Particularly when we take a limited interest in the cultural history of the countries of our upbringing, and without a deep contextual understanding of or feeling for either the ancestral land or former. End up with a really banal cosmopolitanism.

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  2. Indian Americans are uninteresting because they’re mostly suburban, and suburbanites are as a general rule not very interesting.

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  3. Loved this piece Razib.

    I feel like a person of the world and don’t care much for national boundaries. {Yup me be evil globalist.} I like people. All people from all cultures. Homo Sapien Modern are connected with each other. Cultures around the world are connected with each other.

    Some of my favorite Hindus are caucasian. They understand and experience eastern culture (including deep meditation) more than 99.99% of Deshis.

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  4. What’s annoying to me is that some Indian folks in amreeka (including in my friends and family) think that white folks think of them as special brown, not dirty brown like Hispanic or dirty dirty black.

    We are special onlee
    We are clever onlee
    Gora loges prefer us to others onlee
    We are not muslims onlee
    Look we have won spelling bee onlee…

    So far in my interactions with amreeki goras, very few can tell the difference between deep brown and light brown or Hindu and Muslim for that matter.

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    1. a lot of truth to this.

      otoh, things have changed a lot since i was a kid. i once met a guy who assumed i was pakistani by my name (white, jewish), and when i said “i’m bangladeshi” he said “oh, you’re tall for a bangladeshi” (which is true).

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