Arathi Govind

Locating Multiplicity: Rethinking U.S. Popular Music Through Indian American Practices

This study investigates the diverse and multi-located practices of second-generation Indian American musicians. I will explore how each individual’s multiple practices are the result of various constraints and opportunities, also revealing their overlapping musical networks. The primary questions I address are 1) What do second-generation Indian American musicians do in order to participate in the popular music world and 2) Why are they involved in multiple musical practices? I concentrate on four well-established artists (Vijay Iyer, Rupa Marya, DJ Rekha, and Sunny Jain). I will reveal how they live, struggle, and thrive through their diverse musical pursuits, which I refer to as their mobilities. I centralize concepts of labor (as a “labor of love,” Guilbault 2014) and representation in order to examine these mobilities. My research will help describe the place(s) that second-generation immigrant artists occupy in the popular music world and how, through sound, these musicians constantly (re)negotiate their senses of belonging. Thus, I contribute to a broad literature on second-generation Asian American immigrants while resisting fixed notions of second-generation identities. Moreover, by taking seriously mobilities as an aspect of musical labor, my study will bring new understandings to the ways that musicians survive and flourish.