Where Ethnicity Was Fluid

Where Ethnicity Was Fluid

The New York Times

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent

In “Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America” (Harvard University Press, $35), Vivek Bald, who teaches writing and digital media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has produced an engaging account of a largely untold wave of immigration: Muslims from British India who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…

…“Collectively they used Americans’ confusion over their ‘race’ to their advantage, developing a fluid and contextual approach to their identity,” he writes. “They were ‘white’ when they attempted to claim citizenship, ‘Hindoo’ when selling exotic goods, ‘black’ or ‘Porto Rican’ when disappearing into U.S. cities or actively attempting to evade the immigration authorities.”…

Read the entire review here.

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