Selling the East in the American South

South Asian Americans were recognized as some of the latest groups of people to migrate to America. This migrant group experienced not only hatred but also unequal treatment, in work, and in social settings. Many of these South Asian immigrants moved into neighboring cities, i.e. Muslim immigrants, with common ethnicities and backgrounds all up and down the West and East Coast. Due to the lack of historical evidence it is hard to understand the reasoning behind Bengali Muslim peddler migration. Vivek Bald first studies what interest Bengali peddlers have in American, and then goes on to study archival sources, along with; birth record, ship logs, ect.

Muslim migrants from India were able to establish a peddler network throughout the East Coast by selling a range of “Oriental goods,”(35). Items like silk, and embroidered cotton were considered to be exotic and uncommon among most classes, and over time devolved into higher-class goods. Although, due to the mass amounts of these people immigrating to America in the late nineteenth century, many Americans felt an economic and cultural threat, leading to the creation of many anit-immigration acts, including The Immigration and Nationality Act (also known as the Hart-Celler Immigration Act) of 1965. The success of the Bengali Muslim peddlers, and Punjabi migrants came from the demand for “Oriental goods.” These migrants moved throughout South America because there was a demand for these new, elite items. This xenophobia that Americans portrayed towards these Bengali Muslims, and Punjabi migrants was seemingly almost nonexistent if studied closer. With that said, there was almost a sense of acceptance the Americans had towards these immigrants because they had a product that the Americans could benefit from. At and economic stand point these migrants were ahead of the game and benefited from their product.

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