by Diditi Mitra
It was a simple question, or so I thought – why do Sikhs dominate the New York City taxi industry as yellow cabbies? Little did I know that this question which culminated into a dissertation for my doctoral degree and subsequently my first book, Punjabi Immigrant Mobility in the United States: Adaptation Through Race and Class would develop into a project of this significance- it slowly, but surely, carved out a path to Punjab, India.
In 2007, I made a trip to Punjab, mainly its villages because that was home for most of the cabbies with whom I had spoken in the Big Apple. It was that journey that sowed the seeds for my interest in exploring transnational Sikh families, my current project. My co-conspirator, Shashwati Talukdar, encouraged me to pursue this research. Further, in one of our many conversations about traveling together, Shashwati suggested that I add a visual component to the story of Sikh immigrants. And thus was born this ‘visual sociological’ project, a collaboration between a sociologist and a filmmaker.
Over the next few months, we’ll share some of our impressions in a series of blog posts. So watch this space!