Muncie, India(na)

Middletown and Asian America

An Indian American's perspective on the typical American community

Muncie, Indiana, remains the epitome of an American town. Yet scholars built the image of so-called typical communities across the United States on an illusion. Their decades of studies ignored the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity and tensions woven into the American communities that Muncie supposedly embodied.

Himanee Gupta-Carlson puts forth an essential question: what do nonwhites, non-Christians, and/or non-natives mean when they call themselves American? A daughter in one of Muncie's first Indian American families, Gupta-Carlson merges personal experience, the life histories of others, and critical analysis to explore the answers. Her stories of members of Muncie's South Asian communities unearth the silences imposed by past studies while challenging the body of scholarship in fundamental ways. At the same time, Gupta-Carlson shares personal memories and experiences that illuminate her place within the historical, political, and sociocultural currents she engages in her work. It also reveals how that work informs and transforms her as a scholar and a person.

As meditative as it is insightful, Muncie, India(na) invites readers to feel the truth of the fascinating stories behind one woman's revised portrait of an American community.

"Gupta-Carlson brings a much-needed perspective to Middletown studies. But she also addresses pressing questions about what it means to be an American today. Through careful reflection and analysis, she develops a compelling case for the importance of involved and sustained dialogues that bridge difference."--Luke Eric Lassiter, coauthor of The Other Side of Middletown


Himanee Gupta-Carlson is an associate professor at SUNY Empire State College.

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