Purnima Mankekar is Professor in the Departments of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of
Affective Objects: India Shopping in the San Francisco Bay Area
This chapter focuses on grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area that sell “Indian” commodities. These stores are fraught social spaces that enable customers, owners, and community members to emplace themselves along a sedimented landscape shaped by race, class, gender, and ethnicity: unlike the idealized and placeless NRIs constructed by Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, customers navigate a complex social terrain. These stores also formed a crucial node in the production of sense memories and sensuous knowledges that enabled the simultaneous reification and unsettlement of India and Indianness and, thereby, participated in the construction of India as an archive of affect and temporality. Additionally, an analysis of these stores suggests identity and community formation as multiplex and heterogenous; furthermore, India represents only one of many modalities for the formation of subjectivity. The objective of this chapter is hence to denaturalize and unsettle taken-for-granted notions of India, Indianness, and diasporic affect.