The Story of the Pre-1965 South Asian Immigrant

In 1965, the Hart-Celler act de-racialized the immigration policy of the U.S. People from non-white countries could more freely migrate to America.

But what of the South Asians who came before their skin color was acceptable? They had no Ellis Island; some jumped ship as sailors, same came in as farmers, some traveled into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico. Some came for special, white-collar reasons. Who were they, and what are their stories?

Led by Professor Indira Karamcheti, Associate Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University, our oral history project is an effort to build the narratives of those who found their way here before 1965, and add faces and stories to the recent scholarship on the traditionally neglected time period between indenture and 1965.

We will build a multimedia investigation into their lives, enriched by scholarly extrapolation and the humanistic search for meaning.

What we’re looking for:

  • Leads on people to interview
  • Leads on other similar oral history/podcast projects or people to speak with
  • Leads on archival materials
  • Leads on funding opportunities

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