What does race have to do with religion? According to Khyati Y. Joshi, quite a bit.
In this compelling look at the ways that second generation Indian Americans develop
and change their sense of ethnic identity, she reveals how race and religion interact,
intersect, and affect each other in a myriad of complex ways. In a society where
Christianity and whiteness are the norm, most Indian Americans are both racial and
religious minorities. At the same time-perceived as neither black nor white-they
are a racially ambiguous population. One result of these factors is the racialization
of religion, on which Joshi offers important insights in the wake of 9/11 and the
intensified backlash against Americans who look Middle Eastern and South Asian.
Drawing on case studies and in-depth interviews with forty-one second-generation
Indian Americans, Joshi analyzes their experiences involving religion, race, and
ethnicity from elementary school to adulthood. She shows how their identity has
developed differently from their parents' and their non-Indian peers', and how religion
often exerted a dramatic effect. She maps the many crossroads that they encounter
as they navigate between home and religious community, family obligations and school,
and a hope to retain their ethnic identity while also feeling disconnected from
their parents' generation.
Through her candid insights into the internal conflicts
that contemporary Indian Americans face as they negotiate this pastiche of experiences,
and the religious and racial discrimination they encounter, Joshi provides a timely
window into the ways that race, religion and ethnicity coincide in day-to-day life.