Magazine of the South Asian American Digital Archive

Rogue Hanuman on the Metro

Before the call center brought Indian voices into American homes; before high-profile, cross-over films like Lagaan (2001) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008); before the Pulitzer- and Booker- winning literary fictions of Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Aravind Adiga; before the Smithsonian Institution’s “Sculpture of South Asia” (1992), “Arts of the Indian Subcontinent” (2004) and “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation” (2014) exhibits, the “Festival of India” (1985-1986) staged the introduction of India and Indians to audiences in the United States. From our contemporary vantage, the festival was risky and messy, but we have much to learn from its exhibition strategies and political aspirations.

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The Archival Spark

"I look at the footage and I think, who were these people? Their faces are so young and they look so different from the faces I remember growing up, there were smiles on them, not knowing what the future would hold." On March 8, 2019, SAADA co-founder Michelle Caswell facilitated a series of conversations with Dorothy Dhillonn (wife of the late Sharanjit Singh Dhillonn), Bibi Dhillonn and Ravi Dhillonn (the daughters of Dorothy and Sharanjit), and musician Zain Alam.

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The Other Kamala

Over the course of the twentieth century, South Asians were repeatedly pulled back and forth across the color line. What is often forgotten, and what Kamala Harris can help us remember, is that racial ambiguity inspired many South Asians to forge bridges with African Americans and other racial minorities.

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An American Story?

Although separated by over 9,000 miles, South Asians in both the United States and South Africa faced similar struggles against racist and exclusionary practices near the turn of the 20th century.

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