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56 AMY BHATT struggles over culture and national belonging are played out. To that end, I examine how the small family unit has emerged as both the site of female sexual regulation and as a marker of modernity. My analysis is drawn from examining two seemingly disparate sites: Indian population control policies that prioritize two-child families and the United States’ immigration laws that privilege family-based migration. Both of these sites underscore the importance placed on the “new Indian woman,” in contrast to the backward and illiterate Indian woman or the illegal and unproductive immigrant woman. Despite her modernity, this woman is still embedded in specific forms that have repercussions for the privileging of some women over others. I therefore track representations of the valiant small family by drawing on Indian and American newspapers and immigration laws in the United States to argue that the focus on family planning embedded in India’s development practice reflects the Indian state’s intention to create “modern” citizens. In turn, traces of these intentions can be seen in the United States’ immigration policies, which privilege those Indian bodies that add to the growth of a seemingly modern, productive, and global diaspora. I use a transnational feminist lens to argue that family planning in India is more than a state-led project aimed at controlling population pressures, but is also grounded in the politics of reproduction, with implications for gender, sexuality, and class that transcend national boundaries. Transnational feminism’s focus on social and economic flows across geo-political entities breaks with existing conceptualizations of ideologies, cultural forms, and relationships of power within discrete national societies. Thus a transnational feminist analysis is particularly useful in pointing to how the overriding emphasis on small families in development and immigration policies can work to conceal inequalities rooted in class, caste, race, and gender. While arguments linking women’s bodies to achieving national objectives are not new, I am more interested in considering recent arguments in cultural and diaspora studies about the importance of sexual bodies in the maintenance of a middle-class, heterosexual, mobile Indian family unit (Parker et al. 1992; Radhakrishnan 1992; Yuval-Davis 1997; Werber and Yuval-Davis 1999). I argue that we must carefully examine how the modern family is reproduced, as it emerges both in the adoption of small family norms in India and through the social reproduction of the Indian diaspora entering the United States. By doing so, it is possible to gain insight into how transnational inequalities along lines of gender, class, caste, and race are produced and maintained. Inequalities continue even in the very sites celebrated as successes of neoliberal modernity, such as India’s decentralized family planning program and increased exportation of skilled workers to the United States.

Sagar XVII — 2007  
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