Uzma Quraishi, "Redefining the Immigrant South" (UNC Press, 2020)


In Redefining the Immigrant South: Indian and Pakistani Immigration to Houston During the Cold War (University of North Carolina Press), Uzma Quraishi (Sam Houston State University) follows the Cold War-era journeys of South Asian international students from U.S. Information Service reading rooms in India and Pakistan, to the halls of the University of Houston, to the suburban subdivisions of Alief and Sugar Land.

This student migration between 1960 and 1980 shows how public diplomacy programs overseas catalyzed the arrival of highly educated, middle-class Asians in the U.S. before the Hart-Celler Act of 1965. Drawing on archival documents, GIS data, and oral interviews, Quraishi investigates how Indian and Pakistani immigrants forged an “interethnic” identity in Houston and located themselves—both socially and geographically—in the midst of a booming yet segregated Sunbelt city.

She conceptualizes their mobility as “brown flight,” a process that simultaneously strengthened ethnic bonds even as it reinforced racial and class barriers. By exploring the links between international and local scales, Redefining the Immigrant South will interest scholars from many fields, including Asian American history; histories of the U.S. South, immigration, and U.S. foreign relations; and sub/urban studies.

Ian Shin is assistant professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan.

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