Artifacts in the Archive
Lesson Plan by Amy Bhatt, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Student Activity: To use the South Asian American Digital Archive to explore a historic moment of the South Asian American diasporic experience.

Time: 75 minutes

1. Becoming familiar with the SAADA archive and searching for specific items
2. Using sources from class readings and discussions to make links to historical events or phenomenon
3. Gaining a deeper understanding of the experiences of South Asian American immigrants

Supplies for this activity:
1. Access to internet connection
3. Laptops or tablets for small groups of 3-4
4. Projector and computer for instructor

1. 10 min: The instructor starts by giving students an overview of the SAADA. (It may be helpful to ask students to come to class having looked at the website on their own and to choose one or two items of interest).
2. 5 min: Students are asked to choose an artifact that interests them (a pamphlet, a newspaper clipping, a significant photograph). They are asked to keep track of how they searched to find the item and why they are drawn to it.
3. 30 min: Working together, the group will brainstorm why this item is historically significant (if they are looking at a Ghadar party newsletter, for instance, they should be able to make connections to British colonial rule and the movement for independence). Ideally, they will be able to link the artifact’s significance to a course reading, film or discussion.
4. 30 min: Students will prepare a 5 minute presentation for the class to demonstrate the historical significance of their artifact and instructor will facilitate discussion.

Instructor’s Notes on the Activity:
This assignment seeks to enhance students’ skills in making links across various sources and to contextual artifacts in the broader history of South Asian immigration and settlement in the U.S. The South Asian American Digital Archive provides more than a thousand sources related to these processes of migration and community formation. After students report out, the instructor may facilitate a general discussion focusing on:
1. How do we determine what artifacts are significant? Who determines “significance” historically?
2. How do we distinguish “primary” versus “secondary” sources through this assignment?
3. What narratives/themes emerge when looking at the history of South Asian American immigration?
4. Why does it matter to look at these sorts of sources? How does SAADA change/reinforce our understanding of the American experience?
5. Is this form of archiving empowering for communities? Why or why not?

Students may not have much familiarity with South Asian American experiences and the archive may feel overwhelming at first. The instructor may limit the artifacts to a pre-determined list from which students may choose to foster overlap with course themes/materials to ensure that students stay on track. Another issue is technological: in classrooms with less reliable internet access, it may be necessary to choose and print a few copies of artifacts for students to use. Finally, working in small groups with a single computer can pose challenges to keeping each student engaged. One way to mitigate that issue is to assign clear roles from the beginning (researcher, facilitator, recorder, reporter, etc) and to grade the work based on participation and completion.

Suggested Bibliography:
• Agarwal, Priya. Passage from India: Post 1965 Indian Immigrants and Their Children. New Delhi: Yuvati, 1991.
• Ajaya, Parvati Raghuram, Kumar Sahoo, Brij Maharaj and Dave Sangha, eds. Tracing an Indian Diaspora: Contexts, Memories, Representations. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2008.
• Barrier, N.G. and Verne A. Dusenberry, eds. The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab. Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1989.
• Brown, Judith M. Global South Asians: Introducing the Modern Diaspora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
• Bhatia, Sunil, ed. American Karma: Race, Culture and Identity in the South Asian Diaspora. New York: New York University Press, 2007.
• Bhatt, Amy & Nalini Iyer. Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013.
• Clarke, C, C. Peach and S. Vertovec, eds. South Asians Overseas: Migration and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990
• Dasgupta, Shamita Das, ed. A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989.
• Dhillon, Kartar. “Astoria Revisited and Autobiographical Notes.”
• Gould, Harold A. Sikhs, Swamis, Students, and Spies: The India Lobby in the United States, 1900–1946. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006.
• Gupta, Sangeeta, ed. Emerging Voices: South Asian Women Redefine Self, Family, and Community. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1999.
• Hajratwala, Minal. Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents. Boston: Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt, 2009.
• Hamilton, Paula, and Linda Shopes. Oral History and Public Memories: Critical Perspectives on the Past. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
• Jensen, Joan M. A Passage from India: Asian Indian Immigrants in North America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.
• Koshy, Susan and R. Radhakrishnan, eds. Transnational South Asians: The Making of a Neo-Diaspora. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
• Kurien, Prema A. Kaleidoscopic Ethnicity; International Migration and the Reconstruction of Community Identities in India. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.
• Lee, Erika, and Judy Yung. Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 145–76.
• Leonard, Karen Isaksen. Locating Home: India's Hyderabadis Abroad. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2007.
• Leonard, Karen Isaksen. Making Ethnic Choices: California's Punjabi Mexican Americans. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.
• Prashad, Vijay. The Karma of Brown Folk. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
• Purkayastha, Bandana. Negotiating Ethnicity: Second-Generation South Asian Americans Traverse a Transnational World. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
• Puwar, Nirmal, and Parvati Raghuram, eds. South Asian Women in the Diaspora. New York: Berg, 2003.
• Ramnath, Maia. “Two Revolutions: The Ghadar Movement and India’s Radical Diaspora, 1913–1918.” Radical History Review 92 (Spring 2005): 7–30.
• Ray, Krishnendu. The Migrant’s Table: Meals and Memories in Bengali-American Households. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004.
• Rayaprol, Aparna. Negotiating Identities: Women in the Indian Diaspora. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
• Scott, Joan W. “The Evidence of Experience.” Critical Inquiry 17, no. 4 (1991): 773–97.
• Shukla, Sandhya Rajendra. India Abroad: Diasporic Cultures of Postwar America and England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.