Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream (Google eBook)

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Stanford University Press, Apr 25, 2012 - Social Science - 264 pages
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Indian Americans own about half of all the motels in the United States. Even more remarkable, most of these motel owners come from the same region in India and—although they are not all related—seventy percent of them share the surname of Patel. Most of these motel owners arrived in the United States with few resources and, broadly speaking, they are self-employed, self-sufficient immigrants who have become successful—they live the American dream.

However, framing this group as embodying the American dream has profound implications. It perpetuates the idea of American exceptionalism—that this nation creates opportunities for newcomers unattainable elsewhere—and also downplays the inequalities of race, gender, culture, and globalization immigrants continue to face. Despite their dominance in the motel industry, Indian American moteliers are concentrated in lower- and mid-budget markets. Life Behind the Lobby explains Indian Americans' simultaneous accomplishments and marginalization and takes a close look at their own role in sustaining that duality.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Building the Diaspora
25
2 Reaching for the American Dream
50
3 Business Hardships and Immigrant Realities
88
4 Professional Appearances and Backstage Hierarchies
123
5 The Possibility of Belonging
161
Conclusion
203
Notes
211
Bibliography
229
Index
245
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About the author (2012)

Pawan Dhingra is Associate Professor of Sociology at Oberlin College and Museum Curator (2011-2012) at the Smithsonian Institution.

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