Transnational America is a path-breaking study of the production of middle-class Indian and American citizens in the context of late-twentieth-century neoliberalism. Inderpal Grewal considers how the circulation and travels of South Asian Indians between India and the U.S. during the 1990s created transnational subjects shaped by a global American culture. Rather than simply framing the United States as an imperialist nation-state that imposes unilateral political power in the world, Grewal analyzes how the concept of America functions as a nationalist discourse beyond the boundaries of the United States by disseminating an ideal of democratic citizenship through consumer practices. Grewal combines a postcolonial perspective with social and cultural theory to argue that contemporary tions of gender, race, class, and nationality are linked to earlier histories of colonization and, in particular, to the consumer culture that emerged from colonization. Focusing on three velists who emigrated from India to the United States, she considers how a concept of Americanness becomes linked to cosmopolitanism.Through an analysis of Mattel's sales of Barbie dolls in India, she shows how American products are consumed by middle-class Indian women with financial means created by India's market liberalization. Considering the fate of asylum-seekers, Grewal looks at how a global feminism in which female refugees are figured as human rights victims emerged from a Western subjectivity. In drawing attention to an America created through the global circulation of people, goods, social movements, rights discourses and more, Grewal makes a powerful, nuanced argument that America must be understood--and studied--as a dynamic entity produced and transformed both within and far beyond its territorial boundaries.
Inderpal Grewal is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel (also published by Duke University Press); coauthor of An Introduction to Women's Studies: Gender in a Transnational World; and coeditor of Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices.