South Asian Immigration to United States: A Brief History Within the Context of Race, Politics, and Identity

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Biopsychosocial Approaches to Understanding Health in South Asian Americans

Publication Date



Published in: E. Chang and M. Perera (Eds.), Biopsychosocial Approaches to Understanding Health in South Asian Americans (pp.15-32). New York, NU: Springer Publishers.


This chapter focuses on key themes that impact South Asian diasporic communities in general. It briefly examines South Asian immigrant journeys to the U.S. that occurred during the height of British colonization and were mainly composed of labor migration before the partition of the Indian subcontinent. In particular, the chapter examines the migrant journeys undertaken by South Asians after the Immigration and Nationality Act/Hart-Caller Act of 1965, when they primarily arrived in the U.S. as students and highly educated professionals, working as doctors, engineers and computer scientists. It also examines how South Asian immigrants have deployed and internalized a model minority discourse to succeed and assimilate in the U.S. The chapter also analyzes the experiences of racism and discrimination experienced by South Asian immigrants particularly in the context of post 9/11 America. Finally, it concludes by looking at some of the ways in which first, second and subsequent generations in the South Asian diaspora creatively and politically engaged with their identity.

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