South Asian Oral History Project

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The Second Phase: 2006-2007 (Immigrants from the 1970's)

The second phase of this project was established in June, 2006 by Deepa Banerjee, the South Asian Studies Librarian who joined University of Washington Libraries in 2006. The interviews were conducted by the oral historian Amy Bhatt, a PhD student at the University of Washington. An advisory committee made up of seven individuals from the Libraries and South Asian Community was also established to help select individuals to be interviewed and to guide the second and third phase of the project.

This phase documented the experiences of South Asians who arrived in the mid-1960's through the 1970's, a period following the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which loosened restrictions and encouraged the migration of South Asian workers and students. This phase explored questions such as:

  • What was it like to immigrate here during this period?
  • What challenges did they face?
  • How did they negotiate them to find success in the United States? 
  • How do they view themselves as both South Asian and American today?

In this period, several South Asians came to the Pacific NW as students, but also to work in the burgeoning aeronautics field through Boeing

This group of immigrants demonstrated a high level of civic and cultural engagement, while creating new outlets for cultural concerns and expression. They worked in fields as diverse as engineering, business, real estate, education, medicine, and as homemakers.

Their activities ranged from founding continuing music societies such as Ragamala, to organizing classes to teach South Asian languages to children, and creating a political voice for the South Asian community through the Indian American Political Advocacy Council.  Far from assimilating, these immigrants have carved out important and visible spaces in the fabric of American society.

The men and women interviewed represent a wide range of stories and backgrounds. They include Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, as well as Hindus, Muslims, and Zoroastrians. Some of the narrators married and created families within their communities, while others chose more divergent paths.

Alok Mathur, South Asian Oral History Interview
Alok Mathur
Amy Laly, South Asian Oral History Interview
Amy Laly
Dev R. Manhas, Interview
Dev R. Manhas
Dinesh Keskar, South Asian Oral History Interview
Dinesh Keskar
Jafar Hussain Siddiqui, South Asian Oral History Interview
Jafar Hussain Siddiqui
Jamal Rahman, South Asian Oral History Interview
Jamal Rahman
Najma Rizvi, South Asian Oral History Interview
Najma Rizvi
Owais Jafrey, Interview
Owais Jafrey
Prem Kumar, Interview
Prem Kumar
Rajinder Singh Manhas, Interview
Rajinder Singh Manhas
Santosh Wahi, South Asian Oral History Interview
Santosh Wahi
Shalia Kode, Interview
Shalia Kode
Vijay Vashee, South Asian Oral History Interview
Vijay Vashee
Zakir Parpia, South Asian Oral History Interview
Zakir Parpia


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