Free and Open to the Public
Using a case study of Indian Americans, Professor Kurien's presentation will examine how race and religion interact to shape the political mobilization of contemporary immigrants. Indian Americans are becoming politically active. What is particularly striking about this group is that they have mobilized around a variety of identities to influence U.S. policy. Some identify as Indian Americans, others as South Asians, and yet others on the basis of religious identity as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. A growing group identifies in terms of their party affiliation as Democrats and Republicans. There is also an adult, second-generation population that is getting involved in civic and political activism in very different ways than from their parents' generation. Her research focused on a variety of Indian American advocacy organizations and found that differing understandings of race, as well as majority/minority status in India and in the United States produced much of the variation in the patterns of civic and political activism of the various groups. She demonstrates that these activism patterns can be explained by the ways in which race and religion intertwine with the characteristics of groups and political opportunity structures in the United States.
Prema Kurien is Professor of Sociology and Robert McClure Robert D. McClure Professor of Teaching Excellence, as well as the founding director of the Asian/Asian American Studies program at Syracuse University. She is the author of two award-winning books, Kaleidoscopic Ethnicity: International Migration and the Reconstruction of Community Identities in India, and A Place at the Multicultural Table: The Development of an American Hinduism and over forty articles and book chapters. Her third book, Ethnic Church Meets Mega Church: Indian American Christianity in Motion is forthcoming in 2017. She is currently working on her next book, Race, Religion, and Citizenship: Indian American Political Advocacy, and on a research project, “The Political Incorporation of Religious Minorities in Canada and the United States.”