Document Type


Date of Award



Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs (SOPA)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

First Advisor

Professor Michael D. Sollars


Jhumpa Lahiri, one of the most important writers about the diasporic experience, depicts the immense hold of native culture on an immigrant's life in order to represent issues related with adjustments in another culture. The primary objective of this thesis is to argue that in Lahiri's narrative world, specifically in The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, Interpreter of Maladies, and The Lowland, such an influence, of native culture in the diasporic experience invariably brings with it a burden of cultural expectation, mainly related to the way gender roles and relations are forged in the native culture. In the process, gender roles and equations go through significant transformations. The main body of the thesis is divided into five chapters. Chapter 2 looks at the lonely immigrant woman in cultural flux and critically assesses her isolation in light of the disconnectedness between the values of her country of origin and the values of her adopted country. Chapter 3 examines culinary aspects of culture and the female immigrant's role in it with the aim of arguing that while nurturing traditional food habits and the act of cooking are gendered activities in the sense that women are expected to fulfill them, such acts can also provide the immigrant woman with a means of asserting 1 2 her importance as the culture-preserver within the diaspora. Chapter 4 analyzes how cultural gendering permeates in the sartorial aspects of diasporic life. Chapter 5 assesses how gender roles go through major changes when the adherents of that particular culture are exposed to a liberal and more egalitarian modem society. Chapter 6 assesses how relationship amongst diasporic women evolve in a clash between two different cultures and argues that while immigrant women from traditional countries internalize patriarchal ideology and educate their daughters to conform, their lives do not remain untouched by their daughters' modem outlook either. Overall, the thesis critically assesses key signifiers of culture such as food habits, institution of marriage, way of dressing, philosophy of life, etc, in order to '(, elaborate upon the central argument about how the imprints of cultural underpinnings do not wash away easily for the immigrants.