Global South Asians: Communities, Cultures, Representations

Home/ Global South Asians: Communities, Cultures, Representations
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA4

Semester and Year Offered: Second Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Amit Kumar Mishra

Email of course coordinator: amitmishra[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in



Through a comprehensive narrative of transborder movement of South Asian people in the long historical passage, and by situating these movements within the larger political-economic and social-cultural contexts of the times, this course intends to introduce the students to certain fundamental themes, questions and debates in the analysis of mobility and migration that are part of global circulation of capital, commodities, communities, cultures and ideas. This course will make an attempt to read the historical narratives of human mobility as an integral constituent of ideological affirmations of the times and ways in which human mobility facilitates the dispersal and universalization of the ideas and also in turn gets altered by these ideas.

Course Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students will be able to

  1. understsand certain fundamental themes, concepts and debates in studying transborder movement and migration
  2. develop broad understanding of human mobility in larger political-economic contexts of the times as well as intertwined processes of global circulation and connectivity
  3. comprehend the thematic processes of insertion of local/national into the global through human mobility with specific historical narrative of South Asian diasporic communities and able to understand the contemporary global order from a transdisciplinary perspective.
  4. critically engage with diverse source material and learning methods and gain skills in analysis and articulation

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1. Understanding Diaspora and Transnationalism (2 Weeks)

begin with, students will be introduced to certain definitional terms and theoretical constructs by way of providing the necessary grounding. These will include – migration theories, theories and meanings of Diaspora, transnationalism etc.

2.. Global Diasporas (1 Week)

To make the students familiar with other diasporic communities across the world an overview of ‘worlds of Diaspora’ will be provided in order to situate the South Asian Diaspora within the context of global diasporas.

3. Making and Mapping of South Asian Diaspora (2 Weeks)

The dispersal of South Asians can be traced back to the travels of cultural-religious emissaries and to the trading ventures of South Asians in Asia and other oceanic regions. However what makes the South Asian Diaspora, in its current definitional articulations, is the large scale immigration of Indians to work on colonial endeavours like plantation, construction, military and auxiliary services, and the post-colonial exodus of workers and professionals.

4. Culture and Identity (2 Weeks)

course will explore the issues of Diasporic identity and culture in their dynamic multiplicity and deterritorialised fluid appropriations/articulations instead of monolithic portrayals. Interlinked binaries to be explored would be – 1) transplantation/transformation; and 2) persistence/accommodation and its imaginary/real articulations. This course will also observe the culture-identity dilemmas and negotiations of the second generation and twice displaced Diasporic subjects.

5. Gender and Diaspora (1 Week)

course attempts to read the gendered narratives of South Asian Diaspora beyond the predictable counting of their loss (of self and social) and as an auxiliary of the larger male dominated Diasporic mediations. An attempt would be made to study the Diasporic women as agency and to celebrate their accomplishments but without discounting their dilemmas and discontents.

6. Diaspora-Development-Diplomacy (2 Weeks)

The concept of ‘Home’ occupies the central place in all Diasporic deliberations- be it imaginary or real. In this section we shall discuss ‘home’ for Diasporic subjects in its metaphoric and pragmatic meanings and the concept of ‘coming home’ in terms of continuing links of Diaspora with the homeland and the role of South Asian Diaspora in globalisation of economy and politics of religion. The course will also evaluate the responses from the ‘home’ in a historical setting.

7. Representations (2 Weeks)

By reading through the literature, music, film, television and cybermedia of and for Diaspora, this course will discuss creative articulation of Diasporic self and space; desire, dilemmas, discontent and delight. It will use the genre of creative representation and productions of Diaspora to ascertain the extent to which these representations and productions collapse the distinction of home and abroad and create a new global-local South Asia. (list of literary texts and films will be given in class)

Assessment Details with weights:

The course will have Four assessments:

  • First assessment will be review of a film or novel related to the subject (15%) Due in 4th Week
  • Second assessment will be presentation in class (20%) Due in 7th Week
  • Third Assignment Term Paper Students will write a 2000 words term paper following standard protocols of writing. (25 %) Due 10th Week
  • Fourth and final assessment will be in class examination (40%) At the end of the course

Reading List:

  • Vertovec, Steven and Robin Cohen, eds., Migration, Diasporas and Transnationalism, Edward Elgar, Chaltenham (UK), 1999. Select articles
  • Portes, Alejandro, ‘Globalisation from Below: The Rise of Transnational Communities’, Working Paper (WPTC-98-01) Transnational Communities Programme, Oxford University.
  • Vijay, ‘The Diasporic Imaginary: Theorising the Indian Diaspora’, Textual Practice, Vol. 10, No.3, 1996, pp. 421-447.
  • Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1996. Select Chapters
  • Hoerder, Dirk, Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium, Duke University Press, Durham, 2002.
  • Paranjape, Makarand, (ed.) In Diaspora: Theories, Histories, Text, Indialog, Delhi, 2001.
  • Petievich, Carla (ed.), The Expanding Landscape: South Asians and the Diaspora, Manohar, Delhi, 1999. Select articles
  • Bates, Crispin, (ed.) Community, Empire and Migration: South Asians in Diaspora, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 2003. Select articles
  • BBC Four Documentary, Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery (Video resource)
  • Hall, Stuart, ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ in Jonathan Rutherford (ed.), Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1990. pp. 222-37.
  • Reddock, Rhoda, ‘Jahaji Bhai: The Emergence of a Dougla Poetics in Trinidad and Tobago’, Identities, Vol.5, No.4, 1999, pp. 569-601. (Dougla or Dogla is a Bhojpuri term often used with pejorative connotations about someone’s parentage and it could be politely translated as hybrid)
  • Vertovec, Steven, The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns, Routledge, London, 2001.
  • Mohammed-Arif, Aminah, Salaam America: South Asian Muslims in New York, Anthem Press, London, 2002.
  • Dusenbery, Verne A., ‘A Sikh Diaspora? Contested Identities and Constructed Realities’ in Veer, Peter van der (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in South Asian Diaspora, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1999, pp.17-42.
  • Purkayastha, Bandana, Negotiating Ethnicity: Second Generation South Asian Americans Traverse a Transnational World, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2005.
  • Carter, Marina, Lakshmi’s Legacy: The Testimonies of Indian Women in 19th Century Mauritius, Editions De L’Ocean Indien, Mauritius, 1994.
  • Rayaprol, Aparna, Negotiating Identities: Women in the Indian Diaspora, OUP, Delhi, 1997.
  • Puwar, N. and Parvati Raghuram,(eds.) South Asian Women in Diaspora, Berg, Oxford, 2003.
  • Bhachu, Parminder, ‘New Cultural Forms and Transnational South Asian Women: Culture, Class and Consumption among South Asian Women in Diaspora’ in Veer, Peter van der (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in South Asian Diaspora, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1999, pp.222-244.
  • Dasgupta, Shamita Das, A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 1998.
  • Srinivasan, Priya, Sweating Sarees: Indian Dance as Transnational Labour, 2011
  • Salman, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991, Granta, 1992, pp. 9-21.
  • Lall, Marie, India’s Missed Opportunity: India’s Relationship with the Non-Resident Indians, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2001.
  • Bhatt, C. and P Mukta, (eds.) Hindutva Movements in the West: Resurgent Hinduism and the Politics of Diaspora, Special Issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol.23, No.3, 2000.
  • (Reports of Government of India and engagement with Diaspora, Pravasi Divas)
  • Mishra, Amit Kumar, Diaspora, Development and the State, Roundtable (Routledge) 2017
  • Prasad, Shundell, Once More Removed: A Journey Back to India, (Documentary, Video Resource)
  • Mishra, Vijay, Literature of the Indian Diaspora: Theorising the Diasporic Imaginary, Routledge, London, 2007.
  • Desai, Jigna, Beyond Bollywood: The Cultural Politics of South Asian Diasporic Film, Routledge, New York, 2003.
  • Niranjana, Tejaswini, Mobilizing India: Women, Music, and Migration between India and Trinidad, Duke University Press, Durham, 2006.
  • Diethrich, Gregory, ‘Desi Music Vibes: The Performance of Indian Youth Culture in Chicago’, Asian Music, Vol.31, No.1, 1999-2000, pp.35-61.
  • Dudrah, Rajinder Kumar, ‘Drum 'n' dhol: British Bhangra Music and Diasporic South Asian Identity Formation’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 5, No.3, 2002, pp. 363-383.
  • Dudrah, Rajinder Kumar, ‘Zee TV in Europe: Non-Terrestrial Television and the Construction of a Pan South Asian Identity’, Contemporary South Asia, Vol11, No.1, 2002, pp.163-181.
  • Vinay, ‘The Politics of History on the Internet: Cyber-Diasporic Hinduism and the North American Hindu Diaspora’, Diaspora, Vol.8, No.2, 1999, pp.136-172.


  • Literary Texts
  • Giriraj Kishore, Pahla Girmitiya, Rajkamal
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, Namesake
  • Peggy Mohan, Jahajin
  • Gauitra Bahadur, Coolie Women
  • Ramabai Espinet, Swinging Bridge
  • Padma Desai, Breaking Out


  • 1. Namesake
  • 2. Provoked
  • 3. One movie made by Bollywood film makers – Swadesh, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
  • 4. Adhura Sapna (Made by Bimal Reddy from Fiji)
  • 5. Documentary Series made MEA – Bridging Worlds