Blurring Boundaries: Exploring the Expectations and Aspirations of Second-Generation Asian Indian Women
By: Priya Gupta Voleti
Published: 2/11/2015
Uploaded: 03/05/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2015 (February) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Asian Indian, curriculum, Education, Education, Identify, model minority

Description/Abstract: This study explores the ways in which three second-generation Asian Indian women came to understand various socio-cultural expectations regarding academics, career, and family life. The narratives of the participants also showcase the ways in which these expectations shifted with time and context and how they shaped their personal and professional aspirations. This qualitative study drew upon postcolonial feminist theories in order to deconstruct one-dimensional constructs of identity (Bhabha, 1994) and explore its complex and fluid nature (Anzaldua, 2007; Minh-Ha, 1989). Furthermore, drawing on this framework enabled the researcher to explore the intersection of gender and ethnicity.

Data collection consisted of four semi-structured interviews with each participant and a document analysis of articles discussing the model-minority stereotype. Data analysis drew from the traditions of case-study design and narrative inquiry and was conducted concurrently with data collection. An emphasis was placed on finding patterns across transcripts, which then led to the formation of concrete categories and themes, related to each participant. A cross-case analysis was also conducted in order to highlight prominent themes emerging across the experiences of the participants.

The research revealed the presence of a grand narrative within the participants' ethnic communities, which served as a means of perpetuating many of the expectations regarding academics and career choice. Throughout their lives, all three participants managed to actively negotiate among these expectations as they sought to find a middle ground between living up to the expectations, while also attending to their own happiness. Each participant also discussed "othering" experiences both inside and outside of school, which contributed to their evolving understanding of their ethnic identity. The influence of gender on identity was also addressed. Throughout this study, the participants' stories revealed their struggles to break down binaries (Anzaldua, 2007) and move towards a hybrid identity (Asher, 2002a).

Implications of this study focus on responding to the increasing diversity within schools through changes in curriculum, practice, and teacher preparation. Furthermore, it calls on the need to conduct future research that continues to dismantle the homogenous grouping of Asian Americans and highlight the unique experiences of specific ethnic groups and specific individuals.