lecture on eastern immigration
In awareness of the 50th anniversary of India's independence, The University of Houston American Cultures Department and The Department of History hosted an open lecture Thursday with Dr. Kusha Haraksingh.
Haraksingh is a professor of history and law at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.
He addressed more than twenty students, faculty and staff at the M.D. Anderson Library on the topic of "Indian Diaspora: Eastern Frontiers and the American Century."
The Diaspora, Haraksingh explained, is the migration of Indian people to the American oceans that began in the Caribbean in 19th century and continues today in the US.
At the forefront of his speech was what he called "the liberating possibilities of the Diaspora," or the effects this movement has had on western Indian culture.
He explained things not normally permitted in the homeland are acceptable here. "A man will sell porn by day and retire to the family for dinner at night."
Haraksingh also addressed issues of cross-cultural perceptions between Indians and westerners.
Laughing, he said, "Everyone knows that Indians are out to make as much money as possible and are out all for themselves."
The American idea is that all men are created equal, and can therefore be blended into a "melting pot." Indians see this culture as a "salad;" we are all together, but different, he explained.
Haraksingh estimated that only one in 20 migrant Indian marriages were mixed.
Noting that this was not a popular practice, he said, "When asked how they view interracial relationships, Indians tend to view this as having to drop their pants to prove their loyalty to the (western) culture."
He pointed out, however, that all individuals carry the values and norms of their culture. "You cannot expect people to look at one another without the eyes they have inherited."