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Anjali Dhar, Adanna Johnson-Evans, Ph.D. Heather Z. Lyons, Ph.D., Rachel L. Grover, Ph.D., Thalia Bishop, Keyaira Williams

Second Generation Participation in Indian Classical Dance: A Qualitative Exploration

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Although 3 million South Asian Indians (SAI) are represented in the U.S. population (U.S. Bureau of Census, 2010), research focusing specifically on second-generation SAI in the U.S. is severely lacking (Maira, 2002). South Asian Indians (SAI) immigrate to the United States for reasons including seeking better economic opportunities than are afforded to them in native India, pursuing education, and reunification with family (Naujoks, 2009).

In order to preserve aspects of SAI culture in the new environment, cultural activities such as Indian Classical Dance (ICD) are promoted amongst second-generation SAIs, which can help SAIs feel closer to their culture of origin while in a foreign land (Rangacharya, 1996). Furthermore, participation in ICD has implications in terms of the gender roles, class ideals, and politics associated with the art form, which idealizes older, “pure” forms of Indian culture (Mukhi, 2000). Thus, the process of acculturation is complicated, since Indian parents encourage participation in traditional cultural activities while integrating their children into American society (Inman et al., 2007); a process which, for some families, can lead to familial conflict (Maira, 2002).

The current qualitative study seeks to examine how second-generation SAI Americans view participation in Indian Classical Dance, as well as how participation relates to acculturative and identity factors, such as perception of gender roles, relationships with first-generation SAI immigrant family members, and one’s own identification with traditional Indian values. Twelve interviews have been conducted, and the data is in the process of analysis via the Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) method ((Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997).

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