Marriage, Migration and Identity: Narratives of Asian Indian Middle-Class Women on Dependent Status



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This exploratory research critically examines identity negotiation and reconstruction among contemporary middle-class Asian Indian women as they transition from employment in India to a dependent H4 visa status in the United States. Most of these women have work experience prior to migration; however, moving to the U.S. on a dependent visa status restricts numerous activities that these women may engage in, including employment. This research evaluates whether and how Indian women incorporate their occupational roles in India to negotiate and reconstruct their identities in the United States. Through in-depth interviews with twenty Asian Indian women currently on a H4 visa and living in Houston, Texas, this research identifies the commonalities and differences that exist in the process of identity construction. Using an intersectionality framework and by discussing the narratives, I present a detailed understanding of what identity means to these women and what resources and capital are being used to navigate the shifts and changes in identity. My research shows that while negotiation and/or reconstruction of identity is complex given it exists at the intersection of marriage, migration, cultural beliefs, transnational ties, role exits and gender expectations, it is also dynamic with time and is a culmination of the influences as well as the impacts of multiple formal and informal social institutions. Within the theoretical structure of reflexive modernity thesis and role exits, I weave together the emerging themes to map the process of identity negotiation and reconstruction by Indian women on a dependent (H4) visa status.



Identity, Role exit, Asian Indian women, Migration, H4 status, Dependent, Wives