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New Roots in America's Sacred Ground

New Roots in America's Sacred Ground: Religion, Race, and Ethnicity in Indian America

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    New Roots in America's Sacred Ground
    Book Description:

    In this compelling look at second-generation Indian Americans, Khyati Y. Joshi draws on case studies and interviews with forty-one second-generation Indian Americans, analyzing their experiences involving religion, race, and ethnicity from elementary school to adulthood. As she maps the crossroads they encounter as they navigate between their homes and the wider American milieu, Joshi shows how their identities have developed differently from their parents' and their non-Indian peers' and how religion often exerted a dramatic effect.The experiences of Joshi's research participants reveal how race and religion interact, intersect, and affect each other in a society where Christianity and whiteness are the norm. Joshi shows how religion is racialized for Indian Americans and offers important insights in the wake of 9/11 and the backlash against Americans who look Middle Eastern and South Asian.

    Through her candid insights into the internal conflicts contemporary Indian Americans face and the religious and racial discrimination they encounter, Joshi provides a timely window into the ways that race, religion, and ethnicity interact in day-to-day life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3988-1
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The post-1965 wave of immigration—the largest in U.S. history—has brought an infusion of color that is challenging traditional understandings of race and racism, the so-called straight line assimilation theory of ethnicity, and the normative place of Christian traditions in society and religious scholarship.¹ After nearly half a century during which immigration was available only to people from the predominantly Protestant regions of Europe, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened the gates for a wave of immigrants from beyond the Judeo-Christian pale. Indian Americans were a major segment of the first wave. Alongside the growth in racial...

  5. 1 Religion in America
    (pp. 15-33)

    One of the first things we all learned in elementary school was that America is the land of freedom—specifically, that people in the United States are allowed to practice whatever religion they want, because our nation grew out of a quest for religious freedom. This is one of the most enduring and powerful misconceptions about religion in American history: that America was created so that all religions could practice freely. In fact, the Puritans fled England in search of a place where they could practice their own religion without fear or oppression. I suspect—and early religious leaders such...

  6. 2 Ethnicity and Religion
    (pp. 34-61)

    Scholarly work on the “identity question” for Indian Americans often springs from analysis of cultural, racial, and national-origin traits such as language, immigrant tradition, and assimilation. This theoretical approach, by itself, disserves second-generation Indian Americans. The importance of religion for Indian Americans must not be obscured because of scholarly discomfort with faith. Nor should religious beliefs or rituals be viewed as no more than ethnic traits. Religion divides most Indian Americans from virtually all non-Indians, including other racial and linguistic minorities.

    What one discovers upon teasing apart the religious threads from the finely woven fabric of Indian American ethnic identity...

  7. 3 Facets of Lived Religion
    (pp. 62-88)

    In the preceding chapters, religion largely came to the research participants, and not the other way around. Their parents designed Sunday schools for them, their peers illustrated new ways of thinking about themselves, and the world around them simply existed as the backdrop and scenery of their lives’ drama. In this chapter, we see how these forty-one second-generation Indian American research participants went to religion. The lived religion of this chapter is found in the information they sought and the conduct they aspired to, in their experience of contact with India and the sensations of private ritual practices. The four...

  8. 4 What Does Race Have to Do with Religion?
    (pp. 89-117)

    This is a book about religion and its myriad impacts on the lives of second-generation Indian Americans, an inherently dynamic phenomenon, lived religion must be situated within the whole life of the individual. As we explore religion’s role in second-generation Indian American ethnic identity development, we must also recognize religion’s intersections with other social identities such as gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, and race. The swirling patterns that created these identities are themselves part of the story of lived religion. In particular, race, recognized as the preeminent social organizing principle of American society, is an essential element of the equation...

  9. 5 Religious Oppression
    (pp. 118-144)

    Religious discrimination in the United States of America is not a post-9/11 phenomenon. Indeed, it is not even a twentieth-century phenomenon, nor has it been limited to non-Christian faiths. The United States has a history of religious intolerance from its beginnings. Native Americans, Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, and Eastern Orthodox Christians faced religious persecution in seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America. Antisemitism, in its turn, took root on American shores from xenophobic seeds brought from Europe, and in some forms continues to have a place in American culture. Today, the followers of Sikhism, Islam, Hinduism, and other non-Western faith traditions encounter prejudice...

  10. 6 Case Studies
    (pp. 145-193)

    What follows are three case studies. As described in the Introduction, these case studies are for the reader’s use in applying and interpreting the material in the first five chapters of the book. Each one presents the experiences of a single research participant across his or her lifespan to date, drawing heavily on the individual’s own voice. The reader should bear in mind that the interview was not contemporaneous with the incidents described. Rather, the research participant’s viewpoint is retrospective; it is the view of the research participant at the particular moment of the interview.

    1. Neha and Salim described being...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 194-198)

    This work, like any in a nascent field of scholarship, is more a beginning than a resolution of the questions, opportunities, and challenges of the subject matter. It can and should nevertheless be the basis for rethinking both how we do our scholarship on religion and how America’s K–12 school system responds to and protects Indian American students.

    The years-long process of developing this book has convinced me that we must consider religion at the level of the individual. Approaching religion only by reference to congregational function is inadequate to consider what religion means and how it acts in...

    (pp. 199-204)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 205-220)
    (pp. 221-234)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 235-240)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-242)