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South Asians on the U.S. Screen


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Table of Contents

Foreword: The Browning of American Media and the Whitewashing of Inequality, Matthew W. Hughey Preface: Just Like No One Else Introduction: South Asians in 21st Century U.S. Television and Film Chapter 1: Seeing is Believing: A Brief History of Non-Whites Representation in U.S. Television and Film Chapter 2: A Snapshot of South Asian Characters in U.S. Media (2010) Chapter 3: Three Degrees of Ethnicity: Racialized Representations of South Asians Chapter 4: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Representations of Gender, Ethnicity, and Nationality Chapter 5: What's the Matter with Outsourced? Conclusion: The Future of South Asians on the U.S. Screen Appendix A: Research Methods and Data Appendix B: Survey Questions Appendix C: Interview Questions

About the Author

Bhoomi K. Thakore is visiting assistant professor and director of the sociology program at Elmhurst College.


Written in accessible prose, South Asians on the U.S. Screen is an engaging and informative text that joins a large body of critical race and media scholarship on film and television, which monitors the onscreen portrayals of different racial groups and evaluates how audiences make sense of those images. Updating earlier work on Asian portrayals, it provides an analysis of contemporary South Asian images and draws meaningful comparisons with other racial groups. The book would particularly interest television aficionados, as well as citizens concerned with the broader impact of immigration on facets of everyday life, including the production and reception of popular film and television images. * Sociology of Race and Ethnicity *
Thakore (Elmhurst College) is a sociologist, and in this book she is concerned with cultural appropriation (a term recently made current by novelist Lionel Schriver) and cultural misappropriation. Many scholars have accepted the inevitability of globalization, but others have pitched a culture war against appropriation. Thakore is on the side of the latter. First, she argues, South Asians are underrepresented. Then, when they are represented, they are stereotyped (as in the case of Slumdog Millionaire). In addition to being stereotyped, these characters are rarely three dimensional. Though Thakore comes down hard, she does not overlook work that achieves limited success. Kal Penn's character in the television series House committed suicide but that was to free Penn up to take a job with the Obama administration. In the end, Thakore contends, in presenting South Asian characters the screen offers them not as multidimensional but as assimilated white Americans-"just like everyone else"-the current trend toward globalization notwithstanding. Thakore uses graphs and survey reports to illustrate her argument. Of interest for those interested in sociology as well as film studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. * CHOICE *
Through analysis of popular South Asian characters on television as well as the responses of viewers to these representations, South Asians on the US Screen offers insights into the stereotypes that organize media portrayals of South Asians. The book will be of interest to those who want a better understanding of the role played by the US media in the marginalization of racial minorities. -- Nazli Kibria, Boston University
This book is a fresh and analytically incisive addition to the burgeoning sociological scholarship on racial representations in the mass media. A rich mixed-methods investigation of the historic and contemporary role of South Asians (e.g., Indians) and their representations within the American mass media, Thakore's book is an important intervention in this growing body of literature for both empirical/substantive reasons as well as the potential to develop theoretical understandings of how racial and ethnic representations operate in a colorblind/postracial society still structured by white supremacy. -- David L. Brunsma, Virginia Tech
This book is an excellent study of the racialization of South Asian Americans. Building on the work of scholars who have documented South Asian Americans' experience with racism, this book breaks new ground by looking specifically at South Asian Americans on US screens in the 21st century. Dr. Thakore shows how depictions of South Asian Americans are used to uphold contemporary race boundaries, while US television and films appear to be inclusive of a diverse group of people . A well-researched, thoughtful book. A must read for people who are interested in understanding racism. -- Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut
Racialized representations in the U.S. media are not limited to 'black and white,' but incorporate all non-white groups. One group seldom studied as subject to racialized representations is South Asians. In South Asians on the U.S. Screen, Bhoomi K. Thakore uses data from media audiences on South Asian characters and actors and convincingly shows that most of their representations, even the ones deemed by many as "progressive," privilege white identity thus reproduce white supremacy at the semiotic level. -- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Duke University; author of Racism Without Racists

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