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Reading Together, Reading ApartIdentity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community$
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Tamara Bhalla

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040481

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040481.001.0001

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Mad for Difference

Mad for Difference

Authenticity, Ambivalence, and the Cosmopolitan South Asian American Reader

(p.1) Introduction Mad for Difference
Reading Together, Reading Apart

Tamara Bhalla

University of Illinois Press

This introductory chapter discusses how literary scholars, reviewers, and especially NetSAP book club members shift among various models of what constitutes South Asian authenticity in the United States. It explores how ideologies of authenticity shape communal practices of reading among South Asian American readers. Such ideologies can serve to reinforce gender inequality in the construction of transnational South Asian literary culture, promote ethnic homogeneity, and encourage complacency around their own privilege, even as South Asian American readers envision the terms of South Asian belonging in the United States as based in ideals of gender equality, ethnic heterogeneity, secularism, and class and caste consciousness. In this way, ideologies of authenticity, as they operate in transnational South Asian literary culture, produce ambivalence as a structuring feature of South Asian belonging in the United States.

Keywords:   South Asian authenticity, South Asian literature, NetSAP book club, South Asian American readers, gender inequality, ethnic homogeneity, secularism, caste consciousness

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