Transnational America

Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms

Transnational America

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 11 b&w photos Published: June 2005

Author: Inderpal Grewal

Asian Studies > South Asia, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

In Transnational America, Inderpal Grewal examines how the circulation of people, goods, social movements, and rights discourses during the 1990s created transnational subjects shaped by a global American culture. Rather than simply frame the United States as an imperialist nation-state that imposes unilateral political power in the world, Grewal analyzes how the concept of “America” functions as a nationalist discourse beyond the boundaries of the United States by disseminating an ideal of democratic citizenship through consumer practices. She develops her argument by focusing on South Asians in India and the United States.

Grewal combines a postcolonial perspective with social and cultural theory to argue that contemporary notions of gender, race, class, and nationality are linked to earlier histories of colonization. Through an analysis of Mattel’s sales of Barbie dolls in India, she discusses the consumption of American products by middle-class Indian women newly empowered with financial means created by India’s market liberalization. Considering the fate of asylum-seekers, Grewal looks at how a global feminism in which female refugees are figured as human rights victims emerged from a distinctly Western perspective. She reveals in the work of three novelists who emigrated from India to the United States—Bharati Mukherjee, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and Amitav Ghosh—a concept of Americanness linked to cosmopolitanism. In Transnational America Grewal makes a powerful, nuanced case that the United States must be understood—and studied—as a dynamic entity produced and transformed both within and far beyond its territorial boundaries.


Transnational America is a timely critical analysis of the rapidly changing relationship between India and the U.S…. [I]lluminating…. [Grewal] lives up to her role as pioneer … of transnational feminist cultural studies.” — Lavina Dhingra Shankar, Journal of Asian Studies

Transnational America is an important book for anyone interested in making sense of the global implications of American nationalism, feminism and neoliberalism in diasporic culture.” — Jill Didur, Topia

Transnational America offers a sophisticated analysis of the complex and varied mechanisms that shore up the global economic system. Grewal’s choice of topic alone is welcome. It is refreshing to encounter such a highly developed appreciation of the critical role of discourse. Grewal handles her subject matter with subtlety and precision. . . . Grewal’s compelling thesis on the pervasive nature of America’s transnational neoliberal regime presents itself forcefully.” — Zoe Gordon, International Feminist Journal of Politics

“[P]owerful…. Grewal gives us valuable insights useful in studies of postcolonialism, ethnicity, gender, culture, and society.” — Laurie E. Naranch, Multicultural Review

“[W]ritten in a clear, formal style that is enriched by the continual ties that [Grewal] has with South Asia (specifically India).” — James McQuiston, Feminist Review

“I recommend this extremely engaging, meticulously theorised, and successfully messy book for those interested in engaging with the links between the geopolitical and biopolitical, governmentality and subjectivity in the context of feminisms, diasporas, neoliberalism, and transnationalism.” — Goldie Osuri, Australian Feminist Studies

“In Transnational America, Grewal offers an insightful and provocative analysis of the complex relationship between politics, consumption, culture and power in the creation of global subjectivities. In doing so, Grewal illustrates the usefulness of postcolonial theory as a prism through which to critically explore the entanglement of geopolitics and biopolitics with the disciplinary and governmental technologies that created neoliberal subjects at the end of the twentieth century. Transnational America raises important questions for those willing to confront the classed, racialized and gendered assumptions that underpin ‘the global’ in Western politics.” — Sandra Dawson, Interventions

"Grewal does an excellent job. . . . [W]ritten in a clear, formal style that is enriched by the continual ties that she has with Southeast Asia (specifically India)." — James McQuiston, Altar Magazine

“Inderpal Grewal deftly combines postcolonial, transnational, and feminist approaches to the study of neoliberalism and consumerism in this timely and important book. The challenges it raises for area studies and disciplinary formations are sure to excite argument and debate in many different quarters.” — Akhil Gupta, author of Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India

“Inderpal Grewal produces profound insights by bringing together disparate contemporary cultural, economic, and political phenomena within a single analytic framework, that of ‘transnational America.’ The acuity, gravity, and strenuous scholarship that mark her writing reflect the conviction that such an understanding is a crucial precondition for social transformation. This book is an important intervention by one of the foremost feminist postcolonial critics in the United States academy today.” — Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, author of The Scandal of the State: Women, Law, and Citizenship in Postcolonial India


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Inderpal Grewal is Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire, and the Cultures of Travel (also published by Duke University Press); coauthor of An Introduction to Women’s Studies: Gender in a Transnational World; and coeditor of Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Neoliberal Citizenship: The Governmentality of Rights and Consumer Culture 1

1. Becoming American: The Novel and the Diaspora 35

2. Traveling Barbie: Indian Transnationalities and the Global Consumer 80

3. "Women's Rights as Human Rights": The Transnational Production of Global Feminist Subjects 121

4. Gendering Refugees: New National/Transnational Subjects 158

5. Transnational America: Race and Gender after 9/11 196

Notes 221

Bibliography 241

Index 267
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3544-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3532-0
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