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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

Between Assimilation, Exoticism and Global Indian Modernity: Transnational Subject-Making of ‚Second Generation Indians’ from Switzerland

Responsible for the doctoral project: Dr. Rohit Jain (doctoral thesis 2014)
Funded by: URPP Asia and Europe
Project duration: August 2007 – July 2010
Tutors: Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies / Prof. em. Claudia Honegger, Institute for Sociology, Bern / Prof. Dr. Gianni D’Amato, University of Neuchâtel
Research field: Entangled Histories


Welche Selbstrepräsentationen entwickeln Inderinnen und Inder der zweiten Generation in der Schweiz angesichts ihrer translokalen Erfahrungen?
Having multiple cultural backgrounds and moving in translocal networks, second generation Indians have to negotiate and translate contradictory sets of identity and alterity. In Switzerland they are, on the one hand, signified within the regimes of assimilation and commercial multiculturalism, and, on the other hand, they face often cultural and social expectations of their parents and the diasporic community. Interacting with their relatives and friends in India and being part of the greater Indian public they are confronted with competing discourses of „India” and the “West” within which they have to negotiate their role as NRI („non-resident Indian“). These processes take place against the background of the increasing presence of “India” in the Swiss public sphere (i.e. Bollywood, Yoga, etc.) and an Indian diaspora policy, which propagates the image of a “global Indian family” in a postcolonial economic race. This PhD-project aims to understand the subjectivities of second generation Indians in this context and it tries to show how they are dependent on institutional settings, social processes and cultural practices. To tackle the sketched subject biographic and ethnographic methods are utilized.

Detailed project description (PDF, 175 KB)