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Hanna Holborn Gray Fellow Ananya Hindocha '23

November 15, 2022 Alex Kelly '23
Ananya Hindocha ’23

The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. We're highlighting the research of this year's fellows in a series of online profiles.

Ananya Hindocha ’23, Sociology and Political Science

“Queer and Asian in the Bay: A Sociological Examination of Asian American Queer Identity in Immigrant Communities”

Abstract: In an effort to better understand how the intersections of immigrant status, ethnicity, and queerness influence identity, this research project examines the experiences of queer second-generation Asian-Americans in the Bay Area. The project is a sociological examination of the consequences of colonization, migration, and Asian survival in the United States as it relates to queer identity. Throughout the project, I analyze historical data in the form of oral histories, zines, and artwork as well as perform interviews with research participants. Using this data, I trace the origins of the model minority myth and the impacts it has on Asian-American communities. Furthermore, I use this framework to better understand the relationship between Asian identity and queerness, analyzing the view of queerness as a failure to achieve the standards set by the model minority myth. Finally, I use the concepts of assimilation and acculturation to understand the relationship between immigrant parents and second generation Asian-Americans in regard to queerness and cultural values. Overall, this paper is an investigation into this unique intersection and how the relationship between Asian identity and queerness may unravel. 

How did you choose your topic?

As a queer Asian and daughter of immigrants, I’ve always grappled with my identity. Growing up in the Bay Area, I felt that my queerness and Asian heritage were always at odds with each other. There was this idea that being queer was a “white thing”, something that only happened because of the Westernization of second generation Asian-Americans. This contradiction has always influenced me and once I started studying sociology, I began to learn all the different ways I could answer these questions and understand the societal forces that created these so-called contradictions. This project is an illustration of the ways in which the personal and academic have merged for me, something I believe is essential to sociology.

Was there anything surprising about the work you did?

Maybe not exactly surprising but one of the most rewarding aspects of my work were my interactions with all the people that I interviewed. Our relationship went past just a researcher and subject. I got to speak with people I had never met that also grew up feeling alone, speaking with them reminded me of how strong and vibrant the queer Asian community really is. Furthermore, many of them spoke about how much this project meant to them, they finally felt heard and understood. I think that speaks to my hope for the future of academics and research, that it continues to uplift and attempt to truly represent and understand diverse communities.

How will you use your research in future studies?

As a senior, I’ll be building off of my project for my sociology thesis. My plan is to expand on the themes I explored in my literature review and interviews. I hope to dive deeper into the impacts of colonialism and the creation of ethnoburbs (ethnic suburbs) and their effect on queer Asian identity. My experience in independent research, specifically within my own community, has really influenced my personal and professional goals. I hope to continue to build on this project and theme in my professional life. My goal is to go into social research or research for organizations to create meaningful change for communities.

The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. Each summer, Bryn Mawr College awards up to 15 students a summer fellowship of $4,500 to undertake an independent research project in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.  The research may either be the beginning of the senior thesis or a project that stands alone, but is relevant to their intellectual interests and must be supported by a faculty advisor.

Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Department of Political Science

Department of Sociology