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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire

It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
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1 Local Warehouse Ethnic Studies- Latin American

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Making Ethnic Choices: Californias Punjabi Mexican Americans


Making Ethnic Choices: Californias Punjabi Mexican Americans Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This is a study of the flexibility of ethnic identity. In the early twentieth century, men from India's Punjab province came to California to work on the land. The new immigrants had few chances to marry. There were very few marriageable Indian women, and miscegenation laws and racial prejudice limited their ability to find white Americans. Discovering an unexpected compatibility, Punjabis married women of Mexican descent, and these alliances inspired others as the men introduced their bachelor friends to the sisters and friends of their wives. These biethnic families developed an identity as "Hindus" but also as Americans. In this work, Karen Isaksen Leonard has related theories linking state policies and ethnicity to those applied at the level of marriage and family life. Using written sources and numerous interviews, she invokes gender, generation, class, religion, language, and the dramatic political changes of the 1940s in South Asia and the United States to show how individual and group perceptions of ethnic identity have changed among Punjabi Mexican Americans in rural California. The intermarriages featured conflict as well as respect and love, and the Punjabi-Mexican families formed a unique community in many ways. As she inquired about the childhood experiences of people with names like Maria Jesusita Singh, Leonard discovered the swift communication network of the "Mexican Hindus", the dynamics between domineering Indian men, and the strong kinship ties and compadrazgo relationships of their Hispanic wives. She describes the cultural inventiveness of the children of these unions, who claimed the "Hindu" identity despite their incomplete inheritance of Punjabi culture. Shealso examines the problematic kinship between recent South Asian immigrants and the Punjabi Mexican Americans. Assembling life stories as well as collective biographies of localized groups, Leonard demonstrates that ethnicity is both persistent and flexible, that ethnic identi

About the Author

Karen Isaksen Leonard is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.

Product Details

Leonard, Karen Isaksen
Temple University Press
Leonard, Karen Isaksen
Leonard, Karen
Mexican americans
Interracial marriage
Ethnic Studies
Sociology - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Asian American History and Cultu
Publication Date:
10 x 7 x 0.9 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Types
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Hispanic American Studies
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Latin American
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Metaphysics » General

Making Ethnic Choices: Californias Punjabi Mexican Americans Used Trade Paper
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