Purpose – Informed by an intersectional perspective, this chapter examines how middle-class, immigrant Tamil (an Indian regional group) Brahmin (upper-caste) profess/ional women organize motherhood in the U.S., by identifying the arrangements of mothering they develop, and the conditions under which these emerge.Methodology/approach – Data is based on a year-long ethnography among Tamils in Atlanta, and multi-part, feminist life-history interviews with 33 first-generation, Tamil professional women, analyzed within a constructivist grounded theory method.Findings – Tamil immigrant motherhood emerges from the interplay of Tamil women's social location as an immigrant community of color in the U.S. and their agency. Paradoxically racialized as model minorities who are also culturally incommensurable with American society, Tamil women rework motherhood around breadwinning and cultural nurturing to mother for class and ethnicity respectively. They expand the hegemonic model of Tamil Brahmin motherhood beyond domesticity positioning their professional work as complementary to mothering, while simultaneously reinforcing hegemonic elements of mothers as keepers of culture, responsible for ethnic socialization of children. Mothering then enables them to engender integration into American society by positioning families as upwardly mobile, model minorities who are ethnic. This, however, exacts a personal toll: their limited professional mobility and reduced personal leisure time.Originality/value – By uncovering Tamil immigrant motherhood as structural and agentic, a site of power contestation between spouses and among Tamil women, and its salience in adaptation to America, this chapter advances scholarship on South Asians that under-theorizes mothering and that on immigrant parenting in which South Asians are invisible.
Manohar, N. (2013), "Mothering for Class and Ethnicity: The Case of Indian Professional Immigrants in the United States", Kohlman, M., Krieg, D. and Dickerson, B. (Ed.) Notions of Family: Intersectional Perspectives (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 159-185. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-2126(2013)0000017011Download as .RIS
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