Muslim middle class families: negotiating belonging and narratives of (Indian) modernity
(Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,Geneva)
Paper short abstract:
The ethnographic paper delineates narrative and performative aspects of middleclassness, modernity and belonging of Muslim middle class families in Lucknow. A focus on the multipolar references in knowledge production follows the translocal, if not transnational character of family life.
Paper long abstract:
Imaginaries of modern India usually draw on the recent rise of the Indian middle class. Increasing consumer choices, positioning towards a global and Indian modernity but also family arrangements and gender relations are considered important symbolic markers of middle class membership. While the Indian middle class discourse is primarily oriented around a Hindu India this paper draws attention to Muslim middle class families.
Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Lucknow the paper looks at the arena "home" as the generation encompassing interface where reproduction, gender relations, division of labour, care arrangements, religious practice, and ideas of kinship are negotiated -- a space where different ideas on educational strategies, consumption and lifestyles preferences, moralities, duties and outlooks on individual freedoms may clash or get reconciled.
While joint family models may be partly rearranged, family and kinship relations remain important social, economic and political resources. A great part of Lucknow's middle class families have at least one close and many distant family members abroad. At times, not even husband and wife live in the same country.
Starting with a short overview of transformations of Muslim middle class family life in Lucknow under globalization in recent years, the paper moves on to delineating how narrative and performative aspects of middleclassness, modernity and belonging are negotiated in everyday family life across gendered, intergenerational relations. A focus on the multipolar references in knowledge production follows the translocal, if not transnational character of family life.
Changing family realities in South Asia