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America's "little Indias"

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America's "little Indias" Empty America's "little Indias"

Post by confuzzled dude Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:16 pm

Not four miles from where two of the authors of this book live and work is the borough of Millbourne, Pennsylvania. It is a small community, one-third mile along Market Street stretching west from central Philadelphia. On these four or five blocks of Market Street are two stores that sell halal meat (specialising in goat), a Sabzi Mandi, Sonia’s Beauty Place that does eyebrow threading for $3 (Rs204), and a Malayali-run insurance franchise. One block off Market Street, behind a Dollar Tree store, is a gurdwara and center of the Philadelphia Sikh Society. One could visit Millbourne on any warm evening and see families sitting on their porches and chatting with their neighbors in Punjabi or Malayalam or Bengali, or strolling along Market Street with their children, wearing salwars or saris and dupattas or turbans. It could be a neighborhood in Delhi.

Millbourne had a population of slightly over 1,100 in 2012. Over 400 of them were of Indian origin, of whom over 300 were born in India; another 110 were born in Bangladesh. It is a working-class community; many of the Indians, as we shall see later, were taxi drivers. The median household income in Millbourne in 2011 was under $34,000, significantly lower than the nationwide level of $53,000. Millbourne is bordered by Upper Darby, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest industrial cities. With almost 83,000 residents, Upper Darby is much larger than Millbourne. Over 3,000 of Upper Darby’s residents were of Indian origin in 2012, and there were another 600 to 700 residents each of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin.
According to the PUMS 2012 data, Punjabis were concentrated in California (Yuba City, Bakersfield, Merced) and New York (Queens), Gujaratis in New Jersey (Edison-Iselin, Jersey City) and Illinois (Schaumberg, Aurora), and Telugus in Virginia (Reston-Tyson’s Corner) and Texas (Irving). Punjabis specialised in the transportation and retail trade sectors; Gujaratis specialised in retail trade and entertainment (hotels, restaurants); Malayalis were strong in the healthcare sector (specifically nursing); Bengalis were disproportionately employed in the education sector; and the computer sector, the most significant one, had a high concentration of Telugus and Tamils. Since these different sectors require different education and skill levels, there were significant differences between Indian language groups by education and income. This is a rich and varied tapestry.
On the face of it, they had more spatial choices. We question, however, whether the new Indian immigrant working in the computer technology sector had any more ability to live in a “community of choice” than did the older Indian immigrant who gravitated to ethnic enclaves in the old urban centers. The techno-immigrants of the 2000s had little choice, we argue, about their place of settlement; they had to live where their industry was located, which happened to be, for reasons discussed extensively in the literature in economic geography, in the suburbs of a handful of American cities. They lived, we suggest, in a new kind of space: what we call—awkwardly, for lack of a better term—the: “ethno-techno-burb.” They responded, as they had to, to the new geography of work in America. As a result, the India-born were spreading to new states and new suburbs, and forming new “little Indias” at the same time that they were concentrating in larger numbers in some special and specialised locations and forming bigger “little Indias.”

confuzzled dude

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