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Desis in the House: South Asian American Theatre and the Politics of Belonging

Chaki, Rohini (2016) Desis in the House: South Asian American Theatre and the Politics of Belonging. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation attempts to update the traditional understanding of what constitutes American theatre by bringing into focus works by South Asian American playwrights addressing the racialization of desis - a large and diverse community of people with origins in South Asia - who have, after the events of 9/11, become questionable citizen subjects in the United States. I examine the various ways in which the plays under consideration represent the negotiation of South Asian American identity in its quest to establish belonging on the American nation-space. I look at scripts and productions to explore responses to the performance of the American desi subject’s precarious belonging in a national space that sees them variously as cultural others or even threats. These plays put the spotlight on techniques of othering as mediated by the structures of class, gender and sexuality, and religion, but they also have certain universal qualities that offer an affective staged realization of the imagined community that is America today - an ethnoracial conglomerate that transcends the conventional white/black racial binary. These plays, moreover, take ownership of and expand the representation of South Asian-origin characters in American popular culture beyond such stock types as the cab driver, the terrorist or the computer nerd. Finally, they forecast the future of the American stage and the direction that American theatre must necessarily take in order to account for the growing diversity of the lives it reflects and shapes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chaki, Rohiniroc40@pitt.eduROC40
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie, Brucebamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee CoChairGeorge, Kathleengeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Committee MemberJackson-Schebetta, Lisalisajsch@pitt.eduLISAJSCH
Committee MemberBose,
Date: 1 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2016
Approval Date: 1 June 2016
Submission Date: 25 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 225
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: South Asian American Theatre - American Drama - Immigrant Identity - Racialization
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 14:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:33


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