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Between Two Life Stages and Cultural Realms: Five Case Studies with ABCDs at the University of Pittsburgh

Schaffer, Jacqueline Luisa (2011) Between Two Life Stages and Cultural Realms: Five Case Studies with ABCDs at the University of Pittsburgh. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This ethnographic study is based on in-depth participant observation with five American-Born Asian Indian college students (hereafter referred to as ABCDs) in their early 20s. This term, ABCD is one that is normally used within the United States-based South Asian community but is used here in place of Second-Generation Asian Indian American because it more directly underscores the state of in-between-ness that the subjects studied expressed as applicable to their experiences. This study provides a partial portrait of the ways that ABCDs manage the tension between their families' expectations and the dominant hostile mindset towards people who look "Middle Eastern" in Post-9/11 America. Indians in the U.S. are sometimes unfairly perceived to have divided loyalties in an era where patriotism and nativism have increased among the mainstream American middle-class. This thesis posits that the public treatment of ABCD individuals as both Model Minorities and stigmatized suspicious persons - prejudice erroneously assumed against people who "look middle-eastern" - results in angst that each of the informants navigates in different ways. The data analysis suggests that the physical separation from parents and the freedom of college creates space and time for a relatively unmonitored lifestyle. However, life at this stage is complicated for ABCDs who, since 9/11 have experienced prejudice based on misidentification. This post-9/11 hostile environment has created a complicated and contradictory space in which ABCDs have to negotiate their identity. Combined with parental pressure to excel, this produces anxiety and ambivalence.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schaffer, Jacqueline Luisajschaffe@pitt.eduJSCHAFFE
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAlter, Joseph Sjsalter@pitt.eduJSALTER
Committee MemberNorman,
Committee MemberHayden, Milica Bakicmilicabh@pitt.eduMILICABH
Committee MemberMajumdar, Neepanmajumda@pitt.eduNMAJUMDA
Date: 9 May 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 March 2011
Approval Date: 9 May 2011
Submission Date: 22 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: 9/11; Identity; India; Second-Generation Immigrant; Stereotypes; Youth
Other ID:, etd-04222011-014501
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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