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Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area

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Abstract:

In studies of immigration and ethnicity, focus on immigrant groups as a whole has generally ignored immigrant sub-groups. Although Scholars researching Asian Indians have sometimes focused on sub-groups none have attempted a comparison between sub-groups of the same nationality (Ganguly 2001, Jain 1989, Leonard 1997, Gibson 1988). This paper compares and contrasts the identification processes of two ethno-religious sub-groups within the larger population of Asian Indians in the San Francisco bay area: the Bengali-Hindus and the Punjabi-Sikhs. I examine how immigrants draw upon and become shaped by multiple cultural repertoires. I also look at the impact of socioeconomic background on immigrant boundary work (Lamont 1992). Based on participant observation, in-depth interviews and informal focus groups, I find that both Bengali-Hindus as well as Punjabi-Sikhs construct an internal ethnic identity, but for very different purposes. Punjabi Sikhs in my sample use an ethno-religious culture to express solidarity and to avoid marginalization. In contrast, Bengali-Hindu interviewees use an ethno-class culture to safeguard their class privilege and distance themselves from co-nationals. The findings display the need to acknowledge the role of pre-migration and sub-national ethnicity in adaptation and identification processes.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

sikh (85), ethnic (78), immigr (50), bengali (45), cultur (43), ident (42), class (34), nation (30), punjabi (28), indian (28), group (24), sub (23), india (22), press (21), hindus (19), intern (18), work (17), american (16), boundari (16), punjabi-sikh (16), bengali-hindus (15),

Author's Keywords:

Ethnicity, Sub-National Identity, Immigration, Asian Indians.
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MLA Citation:

Niyogi, Sanghamitra. "Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA, Jul 31, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-14 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p242171_index.html>

APA Citation:

Niyogi, S. , 2008-07-31 "Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA Online <PDF>. 2013-12-14 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p242171_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: In studies of immigration and ethnicity, focus on immigrant groups as a whole has generally ignored immigrant sub-groups. Although Scholars researching Asian Indians have sometimes focused on sub-groups none have attempted a comparison between sub-groups of the same nationality (Ganguly 2001, Jain 1989, Leonard 1997, Gibson 1988). This paper compares and contrasts the identification processes of two ethno-religious sub-groups within the larger population of Asian Indians in the San Francisco bay area: the Bengali-Hindus and the Punjabi-Sikhs. I examine how immigrants draw upon and become shaped by multiple cultural repertoires. I also look at the impact of socioeconomic background on immigrant boundary work (Lamont 1992). Based on participant observation, in-depth interviews and informal focus groups, I find that both Bengali-Hindus as well as Punjabi-Sikhs construct an internal ethnic identity, but for very different purposes. Punjabi Sikhs in my sample use an ethno-religious culture to express solidarity and to avoid marginalization. In contrast, Bengali-Hindu interviewees use an ethno-class culture to safeguard their class privilege and distance themselves from co-nationals. The findings display the need to acknowledge the role of pre-migration and sub-national ethnicity in adaptation and identification processes.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 20
Word count: 5134
Text sample:
Immigrant Sub-National Ethnicity: Bengali-Hindus and Punjabi-Sikhs in the San Francisco Bay Area Introduction In studies of immigration and ethnicity focus on immigrant groups as a whole has generally ignored immigrant sub-groups. Although Scholars researching Asian Indians have sometimes focused on sub-groups none have attempted a comparison between sub- groups of the same nationality (Ganguly 2001 Jain 1989 Leonard 1997 Gibson 1988). This paper presents the preliminary findings of my larger project that compares and contrasts the identification processes of
Sumit. 1998. Writing Social History. Oxford Univ. Press: New Delhi. 32. Swidler Anne. 1986. “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies.” American Sociological Review 51:273-86. 33. Tatla Darshan Singh. 1999. The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood. UCL Press: London. 34. Van Der Veer Peter. 1995. “Introduction: The Diasporic Imagination ” in his (ed.) Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia. 35. Waters Mary C. 1999. Black Identities: West Indian


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