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Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America

Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N
Time: Mar 7th, 4:00 pm End: Mar 7th, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: United States Studies, South Asian, Religion, Study of (FAS), Political Science, History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), East Asian Studies (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, Cinema, Caribbean, African, 2000-, 1950-2000, 1900-1950, 1800-1900
Lecture by Vivek Bald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Centre for the Study of the  United States is pleased to present:

Vivek Bald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America

Drawing from his recently published book, Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Harvard University Press, 2013), Bald will explore the histories of two little-known groups of South Asian Muslim migrants who came to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first was a group of small traders of embroidered silks who came to sell their goods on New Jersey's beach boardwalks in the 1880s and then built a peddler network, rooted in New Orleans, which stretched throughout the U.S. South, the Caribbean, and Central America. The second group were workers on British steamships, who began jumping ship in New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia during WWI to escape indenture-like conditions and access factory and restaurant jobs onshore. Bald will trace out these early histories, exploring the ways South Asian migrants navigated both British colonial power and U.S. racialization, segregation, and immigration restrictions—and the ways African American and Puerto Rican communities provided these men with shelter and possibility at the height of the Asian Exclusion era.

Vivek Bald is a writer, scholar, and documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on histories of the South Asian diaspora. He is the author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, and a co-editor of the collection The Sun Never Sets: South Asian Migrants in an Age of U.S. Power (New York University Press, 2013). His films include: Taxi-vala/Auto-biography (1994), Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music (2003), and In Search of Bengali Harlem (in production). He is Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of MIT's recently formed Open Documentary Lab.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.  To register, please click HERE.

For further information, please contact the Centre for the Study of the United States at (416) 946-8972.

Co-sponsored by

  • The Asian Institute
  • The Munk School of Global Affairs
  • The Cinema Studies Institute, Innis College

Download flyer [pdf]


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