Roots and Reflections

South Asians in the Pacific Northwest

Amy Bhatt and Nalini Iyer
Foreword by Deepa Banerjee

  • Published: 2013. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 276 pp., 26 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Published with: South Asian Oral History Project and University of Washington Libraries
  • Contents

Immigrants from South Asia first began settling in Washington and Oregon in the nineteenth century, but because of restrictions placed on Asian immigration to the United States in the early twentieth century, the vast majority have come to the region since World War II. Roots and Reflections uses oral history to show how South Asian immigrant experiences were shaped by the region and how they differed over time and across generations. It includes the stories of immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka who arrived from the end of World War II through the 1980s.

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Amy Bhatt is assistant professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Nalini Iyer is professor of English at Seattle University.
Foreword by Deepa Banerjee

Introduction: Situating Stories
An Introduction to South Asian Communities in the Pacific Northwest

1. "Finding Traces of Our Existence Here": Pre-World War Two South Asian Migrations
2. Routes and Roots: Stories of Departure and Arrival
3. Creating Professional Classes: Education and Training
4. All in a Day's Work: Employment, Migration, and Identity
5. Falling from the Tree: Family, Gender, and Generational Differences
6. Seeds Take Root: Growing South Asian Communities in the Pacific Northwest

Epilogue: Meditations on Methodologies

Appendix 1. Interviews in the South Asian Oral History Project
Appendix 2. Narrator Biographies


"The authors address different social mores for women and men, as well as organizations created to support progressive world agendas and help individuals. Highly recommended."
-Choice, July 2013

"It's directly relevant to the immigration debate being waged at a national level. In particular, it reveals how policies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 continue to dictate who gets to come to the U. S. in terms of country."
-Shiwani Srivastava, International Examiner, March 2013

"The resulting interviews were so rich in life experience and so telling in diasporic drama . . . Amy Bhatt and Nalini Iyer have collaborated to share some of these stories in book form and provide context for them within the bigger picture of Pacific Northwest history."
-Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Bellingham Herald, February 2013

"A timely intervention in the field of South Asian diaspora studies . . . this study veritably nuances and complicates the prototypes of South Asian immigrant narratives made popular by fictions of Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, to offer an account that, in its diversity and rich detail, is going to be of seminal interest to students and scholars across disciplines."
-Sreyoshi Sarkar, South Asian Review

"An intimate, transnational narrative that sheds light on the political turmoil that pushed many emigrants out of their countries in South Asia and the educational and professional opportunities that pulled them to the Pacific Northwest. . . . [A] readable and captivating narrative."
-Jennifer Macias, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Informative, insightful, and a model for using oral histories as the primary narrative mechanism for driving a publication that has appeal for scholars as well as more general readership. . . . I recommend Roots and Reflections to anyone who considers collaboration to be an opportunity for rethinking methodologies in the social sciences and humanities as well as an integral component to feminist praxis. Overall, the book offers an exceptional model for using oral histories as well as archival material in a manner that is respectful to the narrators and both engaging and informative to the reader."
-Sarah Dziedzic, Oral History Review

"Roots and Reflections is an accessible and engaging text. It would be useful in undergraduate courses on Asian American history and help generate productive discussions in other courses about methodology, specifically oral history and community-based scholarship."
-Seema Sohi, American Historical Review