“Where Are You Originally From?”
and Transnational Differences
Is ethnicity nothing but … what ethnicity does? Is ethnic selfhood an end in itself, or is it a necessary but deterministic phase to be left behind when the time is right to inaugurate the “post ethnic”?
Radhakrishnan, Diasporic Mediations
I have explored ethnographically how Punjabi, Hindu, Asian, Black, Indian, and British identifications are produced by people. In focusing on the spaces of difference that make being and becoming Vilayati, Asian, Punjabi, Hindu, Black, British, NRI, and PIO potential identifications for people, I have highlighted the role of claims to cultural knowledge and agency that create specific constructions of collective agency within the transnational frame. Transnationalism is a modality of lived experience in which migrants constantly and subtlety (re-)create globalization through their choices and negotiations of identification. The articulation of a “third space” (Bhabha 1990a, 1990b) disrupts any easy understandings of HP identity and instead emphasizes analytical framework of the play between constructions of being British and becoming South Asian. The individual and collective formations of HP knowledge and agency challenge the idea that ethnic minorities are merely the products of globalization. Instead, opening up the discussion that identity, community, and