Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Donileen Loseke, Ph.D.


Narrative, Assimilation, Authenticity, Gender expectations, Immigrant identity


Traditional Indian cultural narratives are pervasive and serve to typify personal identity and experience. These cultural narratives portray Indian women as a wife and mother, nurturing, obedient, forbearing, soft-spoken, and the primary transmitters of the ethnic culture. American culture, on the other hand, encourages independence, individualism and a more elastic view towards gender. As assimilation theory suggests, Asian Indians in the United States are likely to assimilate at least some degree into American society. Accordingly, these narratives make up the cultural identity of Indian women in the United States. The contrasting cultural narratives shape the identities of Indian women residing in the United States and have the capacity to influence Asian Indian women's attitudes toward traditional Indian views about marriage, culture and gender expectations. Using data from interviews with eleven college-aged Indian women, I examine how college-aged Asian Indian women in a large southern university negotiate their Indian identity in American society. The personal identities they construct are much more diverse and complex than the typifications in the cultural narrative of 'Indian women.' Specifically, I explore how these women understand expectations of dating and marriage, education and independence, and clothing and demeanor, as well as how each of these are negotiated and shaped to fit the personal identities these women are constructing for themselves.