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How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream 1791–1935$
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Susan Nance

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832745

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807894057_nance

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Turbans and Capitalism, 1893–1930

Turbans and Capitalism, 1893–1930

(p.205) chapter 7 Turbans and Capitalism, 1893–1930
How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream 1791–1935

Susan Nance

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses how South Asians and Americans argued about Eastern spirituality in such a way that the turban became a sign of masculine failure at the height of public support for the business ethic and the idea of personal responsibility for success. The story of how and why the turban became a sign of failure to so many Americans shows how difficult it could be for South Asians to intervene in American life and how American women nonetheless helped make that intervention possible. The Eastern swami came bearing an antimaterialist critique of the United States, and many Anglo-American women saw in it a rebuke of white male power and American modernity premised upon it.

Keywords:   South Asians, Americans, Eastern spirituality, masculine failure, swami

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