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Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America

April 6, 2013

Program Locations:

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Langston Hughes Auditorium

A book event with theater, film, and community forum presented by afro-latin@ forum, Asian American Writer's Workshop and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Join us for a celebration of the publication of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Harvard University Press) by scholar and documentary filmmaker Vivek Bald. This special event will explore the little-known stories of Muslim men from the Indian subcontinent who settled in Harlem in the 1920s-50s, married Puerto Rican, African American, and West Indian women, and became a small but significant part of the neighborhood, selling hotdogs from pushcarts, opening the neighborhood's first Indian restaurants, and interacting with Harlem's other Muslim communities. 


Bald will read from his book, which traces out these and other early histories of Indian Muslim men who settled in places like Tremé in New Orleans and Black Bottom in Detroit. East Harlem actor/playwright Alaudin Ullah will perform an excerpt from his one-man show"Dishwasher Dreams," which focuses on the story of his father Habib, who was one of the first Bengali men to settle in Harlem. The event will also include an excerpt from "In Search of Bengali Harlem," the documentary film on which Bald and Ullah are collaborating, followed by a panel discussion and community forum with children and descendants of some of the Bengali men who settled in Harlem in the mid-twentieth century. Plus a special guest DJ set by Himanshu Suri, aka Heems, formerly of the rap group Das Racist.
 


Check out Schomburg exhibition Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers on view until July 6, 2013.

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