Subat Matin Oral History Interviews

Collection Overview

Date Range: July-August 2022
Geographical Coverage: Brooklyn, NY; Queens, NY; Long Island, NY; Manassas, VA; Alexandria, VA; Woodbridge, VA
Language(s): Uncategorized (20)
Number of Items: 20
Item Types: Oral History (20)
Donor(s): Subat Matin

Browse items in this collection
About the Collection

Collection Description
This thesis project, "I Belong Here Too: An Oral History of the Immigration of Bangladeshis to New York City," is based on oral histories of Bangladeshi immigration in New York City during the 1970s-1990s. These responses could help us understand how the migration of Bangladeshi immigrants to New York and the United States has affected or changed their relationship with their culture, religion, and families. The oral histories are being used to answer these questions: What kinds of societal changes took place around Bangladeshi Americans in New York? How do the experiences of Bangladeshi Americans compare to those of other South Asian Americans? What do the practices of Bangladeshi immigrants tell us about their vision for the future once in America? In the oral interviews, many of the interviewees expressed their feelings about how important it was for them to keep their cultural values and religious teachings alive while living in a new country. This also affected the family dynamic, because many of the interviewees felt that keeping in touch with their families back home and keeping the hope of one day seeing their families again and bringing them to America changed their perspectives on the struggles faced as immigrants in New York.

(Disclaimer: The living situation in New York City is different for everyone; therefore, background noise such as talking in the background, noises from the street, and more is present in some of the interviews. It was difficult to edit out some of the noise as it would cut off the interviewees' stories. Please be mindful of this while listening to the interviews.)

Biographical History
The participants selected for the oral interviews conducted by Subat Matin are mainly from the Sandwip community in Brooklyn, New York. Out of the twenty people interviewed, four of them are from Dhaka, a major city in Bangladesh, while the rest are from Sandwip, a small island in Bangladesh. Many of the interviewees from Sandwip eventually moved to another major city in Bangladesh called Chittagong. The interviews demonstrated that these groups had different struggles and experiences when immigrating to the U.S. One major difference between the groups is that Bangladeshis from Dhaka who first immigrated to New York did not want to live in New York long-term and believed it was not the right place to raise families. They moved out of the city to Virginia as soon as they received an education and secured a job. The people from Sandwip, however, are a tight-knit community and have lived in Brooklyn since they immigrated to the city. All the interviews were completed in the summer of 2022. Having conducted the interviews in Bangla allowed for the interviewees to express more of what they wanted to share and allowed them to give more details about their stories.

Project creator Subat Matin explains that the goal of the collection "is to help bring attention to the history of Bangladeshis, and share it with the general South Asian community and members of other communities. I want people to understand the history and struggles that Bangladeshi immigrants faced while coming to America. It was a privilege being able to interview people who are part of the Sandwip community and those who are not. The history of a growing Bangladeshi American population has been overlooked up to now. Ideally, the U.S. is one of the countries with the most immigrants and the foundation of the country is built for 'dreamers.' The Bangladeshi immigrants of Brooklyn are the dreamers. The life stories of these twenty interviewees reveal the difficulties and life changing experiences of Bangladeshi immigrants in Brooklyn and helps us understand how and why Bangladeshis came to America to make different lives for themselves."

Browse items in this collection
Related Materials

Collection Themes: , Uncategorized (20)

Browse items in this collection
Administrative Information

Access & Use: Items in this SAADA collection are open for research. Items may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media without express written consent from the copyright holder and the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). The user is responsible for all issues of copyright.

Browse items in this collection