The magazine India New England writes about a psychologist who has been doing ethnographic fieldwork for two years! :
Sunil Bhatia, associate professor of human development at Connecticut College, uses the tools of ethnography to explore the unspoken, invisible experiences beneath the successful exterior of middle-class Indian immigrants, sometimes referred to as the “model minority.” He conducted two years of research as a participant-observer at community and family events among members of the Indian Diaspora in southern Connecticut.
His research shows that the standard model of the acculturation process is inadequate for understanding changes in immigrant identity:
In the standard model that Bhatia has questioned, an immigrant successfully deals with the new culture of his adopted country by integrating it with the old culture of his native land, shedding values and practices that no longer work, or providing space, often in the home, for the old values to live alongside the new. (...) He notes that the standard model ignores the particular historical and economic circumstances that lead people to move to a new culture. It also treats both old and new cultures as fixed entities practically synonymous with nation states, and its heavy emphasis on assimilation misses intriguing personal struggles where individuals adopt or reject values.
Bhatia says focusing on the immigrant’s own role in constructing both old and new identities, “changes the notion of what it means to assimilate or to be multicultural, shifting the question of what ‘otherness’ means.”
Bhatia sees the modern Indian immigrant constructing a home culture or “Indian identity” in the new country that is markedly different from life in the old. The family that shunned television in India as a waste of time may now have any of seven Indian satellite or cable channels in their American home to be sure their children are exposed to the language, news, and entertainment from “home.” Mothers often have dual roles: college-educated wage earners during the day, and cultural care-takers at night, cooking Indian meals, supervising their children’s Hindi language education, and dutifully securing a distinctly Indian home life — though often without the presence and counsel of their own mothers or the extended family.
These identity-building projects undertaken by Indians — what Bhatia calls “creating a space for themselves” in newspapers, celebrations, temples — require time, energy, individual choice, and struggle.