Race, Religion, and Class at the intersection of High Skilled Immigration in the US.
This chapter uses the case of Pakistani graduate students to understand how international students in the U.S. comprehend and deal with discrimination in the host society, which can illuminate larger processes of othering, identity development, and contestation. Using qualitative interviews of 28 Pakistani graduate students (13 female and 15 male) studying in the U.S., I conceptualize the analytical strategies adopted by international students to deal with discrimination in the host culture. I use the DuBoisian notion of double consciousness to theorize how Pakistani graduate students see their religious and national identity from the host culture’s perspective. The students not only see their Muslim and Pakistani identity through their own eyes but also see these identities challenged within the context of the War on Terror, hence embodying a sense of double consciousness in the host society, and struggle constantly as they challenge and negotiate the negative constructs surrounding them. Pakistani graduate students navigate within the constructs of terrorism when their religiosity and nationality are revealed to the dominant group. They negotiate these identities by having a deeper understanding of worldviews on the War on Terror, enabling them to overcome and deal with the conflicting circumstances challenging their nationality and religiosity in the host culture.
Using life-history interviews of 28 Pakistani graduate students studying in the US, I theorize acculturation processes beyond the psycho-socio-cultural understandings of the newcomers’ experiences. Drawing from intersectionality, identity, and cultural theories, I present the explorer-keeper acculturation framework for studying experiences of international students in the American mainstream. Pakistani graduate students experience acculturation across the explorer-keeper continuum and use the interplay of their intersectional identities, i.e., gendered, age (life stage), religious identity, and temporary migrant status to navigate the host society. The findings demonstrate a gendered acculturation strategy. I show that explorer-keeper framework highlights a gendered approach of looking at the processes of incorporation in the host society, and captures the fluidity in the acculturation of the international students of varying cultural, and religious backgrounds. Women are more likely to adopt a keepers approach towards the social interactions considered controversial in the home society (going to bars and romance/dating), and strongly rely on the values of their home society to navigate the new terrain. While men embody an exploratory approach towards host cultural elements of going to bars and dating. Age and life stage are integral in defining the cultural and social interaction defined by their young and mid-adult graduate student lives