Redefining the Immigrant South

Indian and Pakistani Immigration to Houston during the Cold War

By Uzma Quraishi

336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 halftones, 12 maps, 11 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5519-2
    Published: May 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5518-5
    Published: May 2020
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5520-8
    Published: March 2020

New Directions in Southern Studies

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Awards & distinctions

2021 Theodore Saloutos Book Prize, Immigration and Ethnic History Society

Honorable Mention, 2021 Pacific Coast Branch Book Award, American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch

In the early years of the Cold War, the United States mounted expansive public diplomacy programs in the Global South, including initiatives with the recently partitioned states of India and Pakistan. U.S. operations in these two countries became the second- and fourth-largest in the world, creating migration links that resulted in the emergence of American universities, such as the University of Houston, as immigration hubs for the highly selective, student-led South Asian migration stream starting in the 1950s. By the late twentieth century, Houston’s South Asian community had become one of the most prosperous in the metropolitan area and one of the largest in the country.

Mining archives and using new oral histories, Uzma Quraishi traces this pioneering community from its midcentury roots to the early twenty-first century, arguing that South Asian immigrants appealed to class conformity and endorsed the model minority myth to navigate the complexities of a shifting Sunbelt South. By examining Indian and Pakistani immigration to a major city transitioning out of Jim Crow, Quraishi reframes our understanding of twentieth-century migration, the changing character of the South, and the tangled politics of race, class, and ethnicity in the United States.

Published in association with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas

About the Author

Uzma Quraishi is assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University.
For more information about Uzma Quraishi, visit the Author Page.


“This book provides greater nuance to historical studies of Asians in the South, but it also reiterates the significance of an intersectional and relational approach to the study of racial formation.”--CHOICE

"Quraishi’s study of Indian and Pakistani immigration to Houston is not limited to the Cold War, and the migration patterns of South Asian Americans in the area continue to evolve to this day. Overall, Redefining the Immigrant South is a welcome contribution to a growing body of literature in Texas community studies."--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"An expansive transnational history. . . . A wonderful contribution to a growing collection of ethnic southern histories that examine the region’s global connections, legacies of antiblackness, marginalization of Asian and Latinx communities, and the South’s diverse metropolitan spaces."--The Metropole

“Quraishi has offered a detailed history that situates South Asian migration to Houston within larger global, national, and regional histories… This is a nuanced story that both documents achievement and success while demonstrating the extent to which South Asian migrants during the Cold War benefitted from national civil rights and immigration reform…” – Diplomatic History

“Engaging…a helpful book for scholars of South Asian studies to understand this diaspora’s complex racial, ethnic, and religious positioning – and long historical presence – in America.” – South Asian Diaspora

"Rare indeed is the book that links so gracefully high-level international policy making on a global scale with the lived experiences of scores of individuals who migrated halfway around the world to the distant land of Texas to build new lives. Here is a nuanced discussion of how class, race, ethnicity, religion, and gender intersected in the formation of the South Asian American community of Houston."--Thomas Borstelmann, University of Nebraska–Lincoln