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Feminisms and Gender in Indian Diasporas

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As decades of research have shown, “feminism” and “Indian-ness” reflect dynamic outcomes of often contradictory political, social, cultural, and economic processes. Feminisms and a focus on gender in Indian diasporas offer a glimpse into these local-to-global processes. According to the Migration Policy Institute, by the 21st century, the largest numbers of diasporic Indians were living in Asia (35%), while 20% were living in the Gulf region, 14% in North America, 13% on the African continent, 10% in Europe, 6% in the Caribbean, and 3% in Oceania (Naujoks 2009). Numerically, ethnic Indians (a term that indicates Indian ancestry) are minorities in every place, except in Mauritius. Yet, the relative power of the diasporas are not a reflection of the numerical strength of Indian-origin migrants in each place or how long they may have lived there. Both the terms of migration—whether Indians were permanent or temporary migrants, or whether they arrived as indentured labour, as family dependents, or as migrants who could access jobs and citizenship more easily—and the relative power of the nation states in which they settled, positioned diasporic groups in the global North as powerful players among diasporas. India’s eagerness to acknowledge some diasporas through offers of overseas Indian citizenships also contributes to the hierarchy among diasporas. At the same time, hierarchies and conflicts mark the experiences of different groups within diasporas. This issue of the Review of Women’s Studies illustrates these themes by focusing on diasporas located in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US), along with accounts of returning Indian migrants from West Asia, as well as on virtual diasporas. The focus on gender (henceforth, a shorthand for intersecting race, caste, class, sexuality, gender, and related structures and ideologies that create hierarchies between different groups of people) and feminisms (the practices that explicitly seek to understand and dismantle gendered hierarchies) allows the authors to discuss power, contradictions, and struggles within diverse Indian diasporas.

Diasporas

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Updated On : 26th Apr, 2019

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