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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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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

"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

"Uzma Quraishi’s nuanced ethnography traces the interplay of anticommunist interventions in South Asia, rapid expansion of international education outreach, and shift to employment-based immigration policy, while also illuminating the remaking yet ongoing persistence of racial hierarchies in the post-Civil Rights era South."--Madeline Y. Hsu, University of Texas at Austin

"The heart of the book consists of three dozen interviews with South Asians who immigrated to Houston during the Cold War, but Quraishi has also delved into a number of archives, scoured scores of reports and newspapers, and read everything that might possibly be relevant, bringing all that erudition to bear on her subject. This work is original, striking, and most important, true, and revelatory."--Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara