Shifting U.S. Racial and ethnic identities and Sikh American activism

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article brings a historical and transnational perspective to the changing identities of immigrants and their census categorization, and emphasizes the role of immigrant political activism in identity change. The focus is on Sikh Americans, the oldest South Asian group in the United States, and on three periods when Sikh Americans rallied to change their identity. Early in the twentieth century, Sikhs mounted legal and political campaigns to obtain U.S. citizenship by claiming Aryan roots. Subsequently, attacks against Sikhs in India beginning in 1984 led to a movement to disavow an Indian identity. Finally, a post-9/11 backlash against men with turbans and beards sparked a campaign to be recognized as an American religious group as well as an ethnic group distinct from Indian Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Citizenship
  • Majority and minority status
  • Race and ethnic identity
  • Religion
  • Sikh Americans
  • South Asians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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