The ANSI news service has reported on the immigration research of SMU anthropology professor Caroline B. Brettell. The Dec. 7 news service article: “Indian, Vietnamese immigrants ‘Americanised’ but don’t lose own identity” has been picked up by newspapers throughout Asia, including The India Times.

Brettell is a cultural anthropologist and University Distinguished Professor in the SMU Department of Anthropology. She is an internationally recognized immigration expert, including trends of new immigration gateway cities such as Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis and the challenges of women immigrants. An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993.

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Indian and Vietnamese immigrants become “Americanised” over time through social activities, but still retain their identities, say researchers after studying the two communities in Texas.

Typically, Indian immigrants came voluntarily, seeking education, jobs and economic opportunity, although some came to join family members, said Caroline B. Brettell, an anthropology professor at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, who conducted the research on the Indians.

Generally they have high levels of education and income, and typically already speak English, she added.

Vietnamese came as refugees, primarily to escape communism and in search of freedom and democracy. More recently they’ve also come to join family members, said Deborah Reed-Danahay, Brettel’s colleague, who conducted the Vietnamese research.

The researchers say that there are a great many surface differences between these two populations, but the research revealed significant similarities in the way immigrants from both India and Vietnam engage in civic and political activities, according to a university statement.

For new Vietnamese and Indian immigrants, whether naturalized citizens or not, American identity deepens as they participate in activities, festivals and banquets at their churches, schools, temples, business and civic associations, say Brettell and Reed-Danahay.

The study results were reported in their book: “Civic Engagements: The Citizenship Practices of Indian & Vietnamese Immigrants” (Stanford University Press, 2012).

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