A Curriculum of Cultural Translation: Desi identities in American Chai

  • Tasha Ausman University of Ottawa
Keywords: curriculum, culture, transnationalism, third space, desi, diaspora, translation, hybridity, identity, film, postcolonial studies


This article examines narrative articulations in the film American Chai as a complicated conversation in relation to the sociocultural constructions of bi/cultural-identities within Indian diaspora communities. Unpacking the way desi (first-generation Indo-Canadian) identities are enunciated in/as a quantum (third) space – one that is continuously shifting and deferred – the author contemplates how we might reconsider the narratives put forth in this film as a curriculum of cultural translations. In turn, her curriculum theory project provokes us to ask what we might learn from inter-generational culture-clashes in the curricular spaces among Indian and Western cultures depicted in film. The author draws upon screenplay pedagogy to analyze and then synthesize possible ways that desi movies sometimes employ melodrama to construct a curriculum of living at, within, and among the interstitial and temporal margins of different cultural spaces. The article concludes by proposing that working through a curriculum of cultural translations put forth by films can help one to reconstruct their subjectivity anew in relation to the ongoing migratory transnational movements of diaspora communities here in Canada.

Author Biography

Tasha Ausman, University of Ottawa
Tasha Ausman is a Master of Arts candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, and a full-time high school teacher in mathematics and chemistry at Pontiac High School, Western Quebec School Board in Gatineau, Quebec. Her research areas include curriculum theory, popular culture, films, and postcolonialism.