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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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The Glue That Keeps Us Together

The Glue That Keeps Us Together

Constructing Ethnic Community in the NetSAP Book Club

(p.27) 1 The Glue That Keeps Us Together
Reading Together, Reading Apart

Tamara Bhalla

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how the NetSAP book club's practices of reading expose the various inclusions and exclusions of South Asian American identity and community formation. It looks at how NetSAP book club participants forge a conflicted and ambivalent sense of South Asian American community in the formation of the book club culture itself. When readers use the organizational structures and regulations of the book club to project South Asian heterogeneity, they counter hegemonic constructions of South Asian identity in literature as primarily Indian, privileged, and male. In contrast, when they discuss the parameters of South Asian identity in literature within the coethnic space of the book club, the endogamous process of community formation often flattens South Asian heterogeneity.

Keywords:   NetSAP book club, South Asian American identity, book club culture, South Asian heterogeneity, hegemonic constructions, community formation

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