Student Migrants and the Diasporic Imagination: Educational Migration, Nationhood, and the Making of Indian Diaspora in the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The transient nature of educational migration locates Indian student migrants ambivalently in the United States, rendering them illegible as diasporic subjects. However, by historically situating the movements of these students across borders, this essay illuminates how the liminality of student migrants’ positioning made their presence formative to Indian diasporic life. Offering a postcolonial American studies perspective, this essay examines educational migration in two key moments of US immigration history: the exclusionary era of the early twentieth century and the period following the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Attention to these moments reveals how the circulation of student migrants between India and the United States is part of a longer history of colonial, postcolonial, and imperialist investments in education. Indian student migrants were embedded in struggles for global power, with contentions over nationhood and modernity serving as a crucial feature of their entanglements in these struggles. Embodying the possibilities for a future India, these youth carried a particular responsibility to the pursuit of Indian modernity and, as such, shaped the diasporic gaze back to an Indian homeland. Yet, forged through the confluence of race, class, surveillance, and nationalism, Indian student migrants’ negotiations of this sense of responsibility informed their political alignments in unexpected ways at key moments. Centring student migrants as important agents of diaspora-making, this essay examines these negotiations and their place in the production of Indian diasporic imaginaries in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalInterventions
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 17 2019

Keywords

  • Education
  • Indian diaspora
  • migration
  • nationhood
  • US global power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology

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