Indian, Vietnamese immigrants ‘Americanised’ but don’t lose own identity
WASHINGTON: Indian and Vietnamese immigrants become “Americanised” over time through social activities, but still retain their identities, say researchers after studying the two communities in Texas.
Typically, Indian immigrants came voluntarily, seeking education, jobs and economic opportunity, although some came to join family members, said Caroline B. Brettell, an anthropology professor at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, who conducted the research on the Indians.
Generally they have high levels of education and income, and typically already speak English, she added.
Vietnamese came as refugees, primarily to escape communism and in search of freedom and democracy. More recently they’ve also come to join family members, said Deborah Reed-Danahay, Brettel’s colleague, who conducted the Vietnamese research.
The researchers say that there are a great many surface differences between these two populations, but the research revealed significant similarities in the way immigrants from both India and Vietnam engage in civic and political activities, according to a university statement.
For new Vietnamese and Indian immigrants, whether naturalized citizens or not, American identity deepens as they participate in activities, festivals and banquets at their churches, schools, temples, business and civic associations, say Brettell and Reed-Danahay.
The study results were reported in their book: “Civic Engagements: The Citizenship Practices of Indian & Vietnamese Immigrants” (Stanford University Press, 2012).
Participants in the three-year study were immigrants in the twin North Texas cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and surrounding suburbs. The region, known as DFW, is the largest metropolitan area in Texas.
Brettell and Reed-Danahay uncovered how North Texas Vietnamese and Indian immigrants develop and embrace their American identity over time – without shedding their culture of origin, as some say they should, according to the study.
The authors interviewed 67 first-generation Indian and Vietnamese parents, many but not all of whom are naturalized US citizens.
They also interviewed college students in their early to mid-20s whose parents were immigrants from either India or Vietnam and who either were born in the US or arrived as young children.