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Virtual Homelands

Indian Immigrants and Online Cultures in the United States

Madhavi Mallapragada

Publication Year: 2014

The internet has transformed the idea of home for Indians and Indian Americans. In Virtual Homelands: Indian Immigrants and Online Cultures in the United States , Madhavi Mallapragada analyzes home pages and other online communities organized by diasporic and immigrant Indians from the late 1990s through the social media period. Engaging the shifting aspects of belonging, immigrant politics, and cultural citizenship by linking the home page, household, and homeland as key sites, Mallapragada illuminates the contours of belonging and reveals how Indian American struggles over it trace back to the web's active mediation in representing, negotiating, and reimagining "home." As Mallapragada shows, ideologies around family and citizenship shift to fit the transnational contexts of the online world and immigration. At the same time, the tactical use of the home page to make gender, racial, and class struggles visible and create new modes for belonging implicates the web within complex political and cultural terrain. On e-commerce, community, and activist sites, the recasting of home and homeland online points to intrusion by public agents such as the state, the law, and immigration systems in the domestic, the private, and the familial. Mallapragada reveals that the home page may mobilize to reproduce conservative narratives of Indian immigrants' familial and citizenship cultures, but the reach of a website extends beyond the textual and discursive to encompass the institutions shaping it, as the web unmakes and remakes ideas of "India" and "America."

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The Asian American Experience

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

This book would not have been possible without the support of my family, friends, and colleagues, to whom I am profoundly indebted. I thank Julie D’Acci, Michele Hilmes, Hemant Shah, Michael Curtin, and Lisa Nakamura for their constructive criticism and enthusiastic support at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where the early ideas for this book were generated. Julie D’Acci...

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Introduction: Recasting Home

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pp. 16-35

Virtual Homelands: Indian Immigrants and Online Cultures in the United States is a study of the textual, institutional, and discursive politics of online media that target, speak to, and are shaped by Indian immigrant cultures. The book’s main emphasis is on the idea of home, and its many reconfigurations online through the concept of the homepage. It critically evaluates how homepages anchor the...

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1. Homepage Nationalisms: Silicon Indians and Curry Codes

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pp. 36-60

Home, as Mary Douglas has insightfully noted, while not necessarily fixed in space, starts by bringing space under control; creating home spaces then involves creating regular patterns of activity and structures, both in place and in time.1 The physical structure of the house, traditionally inscribed by notions of privacy, security, family, intimacy, comfort, and control, has long represented...

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2. Out of Place in the Domestic Space: H4 Indian Ladies Negotiating Belonging

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pp. 61-96

H4 Indian Ladies is an active and prolific discussion forum on Indusladies.com, one of the most popular community websites for Indian immigrants. The H4 Indian Ladies forum was created in 2005 and appears under the geographically marked section titled “USA and Canada” on the website’s discussion page under the category of “neighborhoods.”1 That page has five geographical...

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3. The Wired Home: Commodified Belonging for the Transnational Family

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pp. 97-129

On July 2, 2012, India’s largest private sector bank ICICI launched a Facebook page for the banking services it targets to nonresident Indians (NRIs).1 The launch was one in a series of measures by the corporation to use social media platforms to strengthen its decade-long investment in the global NRI community, especially those in the United States. Starting in the late 1990s and...

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4. Desi Networds: Linking Race, Class, and Immigration to Homeland

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pp. 130-157

Konrad Aderer’s short documentary Rising Up: The Alams centers on a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant couple, Mohammed Alam and Sultana Jahangir, as they fight the U.S. government’s effort to deport them. In the shadow of enhanced, post-9/11 security measures, the concept of home figures as a central narrative trope. The film, produced in 2005 by Life or Liberty, a nonprofit multimedia...

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Conclusion: Home Matters in the Age of Networks

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pp. 158-167

What is the most fitting way to conclude a book about immigrant belonging and the politics of home online? Rather than embracing the upbeat rhetoric of homecomings or remaking home—in the sense of creating a new, stable location in place of the old—I am emphasizing a deconstructive and critical position. As Rob Shields reminds us, “the Web is not visible from the point...


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pp. 168-195


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pp. 196-203

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About the Author, Other Works in the Series, Production Notes

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pp. 204-209

Madhavi Mallapragada is an assistant professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252096563
E-ISBN-10: 0252096568
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252038631

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: The Asian American Experience