Issue 14: The South Asian American Generation (//)

Over the years SAMAR magazine has insisted that South Asians are united by a shared history which provides a common basis for understanding our place in the contemporary world. At the same time we have tried to explore the multiple ways that sexuality, gender, religion, nationality, and class complicate any simple attempt to lump South Asians together in an unproblematic way. In this issue we turn our attention to the question of generation. We pose this from within the context of the North American diaspora. Here a generation means the difference between a consciousness formed in the North American landscape and one whose perspective originates more fully from the subcontinent. In setting this up we want to avoid assuming that this divide translates into the all too familiar stereotypes of tradition-bound immigrant parents, "clueless" recent arrivals, totally assimilated youth ignorant of their own heritage, and rebellious teenagers in search of a hipper answer. Instead we open up an exploration of the differences and the similarities between and within generations.

The articles in this forum help us to do this by asking critical questions and revealing the multiple perspectives within "the South Asian American generation." Do all young South Asians self-identify as "desi?" What does it mean to be queer and radical in the U.S.? Are South Asian "alternative" cultural festivals getting lost in the quagmire of identity politics? What possible connections can be made between the anti-dam grassroots movement in the Narmada valley and anti-police brutality campaigns in urban North America? How does the religious Hindu right in India spread its tentacles in this country?

This forum is not meant to be exhaustive, but provocative. We hope it begins a conversation that will continue. So we leave you to consider along with us how generation might be a useful distinction to consider within the South Asian diaspora. How does it help to shape our consciousness, our communities, and our struggles? What difference does a generation make?"

Over the years SAMAR magazine has insisted that South Asians are united by a shared history which provides a common basis for understanding our place in the contemporary world. At the same time we have tried to explore the multiple ways that sexuality, gender, religion, nationality, and class complicate any simple attempt to lump South Asians together in an unproblematic way. In this issue we turn our attention to the question of generation. We pose this from within the context of the North American diaspora. Here a generation means the difference between a consciousness formed in the North American landscape and one whose perspective originates more fully from the subcontinent. In setting this up we want to avoid assuming that this divide translates into the all too familiar stereotypes of tradition-bound immigrant parents, "clueless" recent arrivals, totally assimilated youth ignorant of their own heritage, and rebellious teenagers in search of a hipper answer. Instead we open up an exploration of the differences and the similarities between and within generations.

The articles in this forum help us to do this by asking critical questions and revealing the multiple perspectives within "the South Asian American generation." Do all young South Asians self-identify as "desi?" What does it mean to be queer and radical in the U.S.? Are South Asian "alternative" cultural festivals getting lost in the quagmire of identity politics? What possible connections can be made between the anti-dam grassroots movement in the Narmada valley and anti-police brutality campaigns in urban North America? How does the religious Hindu right in India spread its tentacles in this country?

This forum is not meant to be exhaustive, but provocative. We hope it begins a conversation that will continue. So we leave you to consider along with us how generation might be a useful distinction to consider within the South Asian diaspora. How does it help to shape our consciousness, our communities, and our struggles? What difference does a generation make?

Articles in this Issue

A critical look at South Asian arts and activism festivals in North America

Bakirathi Mani

Sri Lankan American Arts in Minnesota and Beyond

Languages of Youth Connectivity

Shalini Shankar

A Review of Nitin Sawhney's Beyond Skin

Junaid Rana

Summer in a Hindu Nationalist Camp

Anita Khandelwal

A Reading of Recent South Asian American Fiction

Sheetal Majithia

New Directions for Progressive Organizing

Svati Shah

A Short Story

Shomial Ahmad

A slice of hip hop from the west coast

Nitasha Sharma

A Review of Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom

S. Subramanian

A Conversation with Organizers from South Asian Youth Action (SAYA), Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), and Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS)

"Reflections on cross-border activism in the West and "back home""

Ajay Gandhi

A report from South Asians Against Police Brutality and Racism

Tinku Sengupta

A Review of Zadie Smith's White Teeth

Dohra Ahmad

"Aniruddha Das of the SAMAR Collective speaks with Aniruddha Das of Asian Dub Foundation"

Aniruddha Das

A Review of Arundhati Roy's Power Politics

Raza Mir