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Cultural discourses on identity and morality by Asian Indians in the United States: An ethnographic analysis

Sally Ona Hastings, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation addresses the problem of how Asian Indian sojourners to the United States discourse the nature of "Indian," "American," and "Indian sojourner" identities in the host setting. The assumption grounding the study is that cultural discourses produce a social reality which then guides the actions and experiences of the sojourner. The ethnographic methods of interviews and participant observation were used to study sojourner discourse. The analyses in the dissertation relied primarily upon transcribed interview data in making claims about patterns in sojourner discourse. The analytic results suggest that sojourner discourses are efficacious in facilitating adaptation to the host setting. Indian sojourners presented codes of identity which created predictable kinds of cultural identities. The reality produced in the talk of the sojourners provided a basis for social relations with members of each of the focal groups. The sojourners symbolically positioned themselves somewhere between the American and Indian identities by appropriating symbols from each in self-reference. The findings suggest that cultural adaptation is not a universally experienced set of phases, but that sojourners groups may creatively develop symbolic resources for dealing with the exigencies of the host setting.

Subject Area

Communication|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Hastings, Sally Ona, "Cultural discourses on identity and morality by Asian Indians in the United States: An ethnographic analysis" (1995). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9541117.