In Asian Americans in Dixie, the author(s) explore the Bengali Muslim peddlers in the American east coast. The author(s) does mention the Punjabi migration on the west coast but focuses on the “South Asian America” on the east coast. The author(s) states that ” In the 1880s, Bengali Muslim peddlers began arriving in New York…these men did not stay in New York, nor did they follow the patterns of migration that became common after 1965, to the cities of the North and Midwest.” By this the author means that “the earliest arrivals married and settled within local communities of African descent, establishing a network that was firmly rooted in the U.S. South.” A migration that changes the whole main understanding of migration routes and settlements of South Asians in America. These Bengali Muslim peddlers often settled in the port cities of the American east coast and south. Particularly in places like Atlantic city and New Orleans.  The author then goes on to say that “… a fashion for “Oriental” goods and entertainment that swept the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries…” The author associates that trend of “Oriental goods” to the influence of imperialism and that owning such goods reflect a masculine white power. In Storyville, New Orleans, the author states that “…New Orleans had become a place like no other in the United States, whose very business was ‘constructing, disseminating, embodying, and selling myths.’” The author means that “ideas about India and the Middle and Far East were circulated, popularized, and naturalized; in their local idiom…” New Orleans became the hub pub of tourism for the ‘exotic’. After reading this article, I understand that though the Bengali Muslim peddlers heavily influence the economy and social dynamics of the American east coast and south, there is however less primary sources about them. I think it would be so interesting to read a first account of a Bengali Muslim in New Orleans.

Categories: History 297

1 Comment

Moon · October 13, 2017 at 9:44 am


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