Hybrid Identities: The Perception and Practice of Indian Teen Culture in the Cumberland Valley

In the Cumberland Valley region of Central Pennsylvania, just south of the capital city of Harrisburg, South Asian Indian Americans have made up one of the largest growing demographic groups in the last three decades. This community of individuals has established themselves in the region through religious institutions, business foundations, and other cultural features. This study seeks to explore the opinions of first and second generation Indian teens in the Cumberland Valley and to examine the ways in which they construct and define their Indian and American identities. The parents of the teen participants were all first generation migrants to the United States and adults in the Indian homeland, ethnically Indian based on nationality and experience. Alternatively, though almost half of the participants in my study identified as first generation – many scholars would called them “1.5” or “1.75 generation” – few were above the age of five when they migrated to the United States. Because of this, their construction of both “Indian” and “American” has occurred primarily within the confines of the Cumberland Valley community. Survey and interview questions asked participants to consider their experiences with language, clothing, music, dance, food, education, dating and other parental expectations, exploring the line between what has been established by their parents and that which is their own creation. Because of the active cultural landscape in which they reside, South Asian and Indian teens in the United States regularly traverse an environment where they must manage the trials of everyday adolescence but also the challenges of overcoming cultural, racial, and class barriers. As will be seen in the case study of Indian teens in the Cumberland Valley, the perceptions, experiences, and concerns of those who I spent time interviewing varied from one student to the next. The degree to which each individual, family, and community chooses to remain connected to their Indian heritage and to define their journey in America is unique and their identities are “hybrid.”

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Work Title Hybrid Identities: The Perception and Practice of Indian Teen Culture in the Cumberland Valley
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Penn State
Creators
  1. Kelly O'Brien
Keyword
  1. South Asian teenagers
  2. Indian teens
  3. Indian culture
  4. Penn State Harrisburg
  5. South Asian teens
  6. American Studies
  7. Immigrant culture
  8. Indian immigrants
License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Work Type Masters Thesis
DOI doi:10.18113/S1ZH24
Deposited November 28, 2018

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