Neoliberal Multiculturalism, Outsourced

Authored by: Asha Nadkarni

The Routledge Companion to Global Television

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138724341
eBook ISBN: 9781315192468
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay examines the 2010 NBC situation comedy Outsourced, with special attention to its representation of the racial politics surrounding business process outsourcing to India. Specifically, it discusses how Outsourced participates in what Jodi Melamed calls “neoliberal multiculturalism” to work through, symbolically and narratively, the realities and contradictions of globalized economies as they are experienced. By staging the dilemmas of outsourcing through the specter of the white male middle manager traveling to India to train Indian call center workers, Outsourced minimizes the affective labor necessarily performed by Indian call center workers and dramatizes outsourcing as a crisis of white U.S. masculinity alone. Moreover, it figures our white male protagonist as the global multicultural citizen to be emulated insofar as he models the appropriate attitude toward outsourcing and toward “other” cultures in general. Finally it suggests that the failure of the show has less to do with issues of cultural stereotyping and more to do with the failure of neoliberal multiculturalism to soothe anxieties around changing global economies.

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