Author, Professor and Smithsonian Institute Curator Pawan Dhingra has written a new book, "Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream," about how Indian Americans have come to own almost half the United States' motels.
"Life Behind the Lobby" is the first, full-length book on this phenomenon with vivid stories and analysis of these immigrants' complicated role in this quintessential American industry, according to Dhingra. Soon to be published by Stanford University Press, the book has been reviewed by leading scholars and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The book has profound implications on how we see a group of entrepreneurs and their families when it comes to embodying the American dream, Dhingra says.
"Pawan Dhingra has written a pioneering book on the world of American motels and hotels. Close attention to the stories told by the people who work in the trade allows Dhingra to go behind the stereotypes, and give us a tale of human beings struggling to make livings and lives. This is a people's sociology of hotel work," said Vijay Prashad of Trinity College.
"Pawan Dhingra's sophisticated and highly original analysis does much to advance our understanding of international migration, ethnic entrepreneurship, and migrants' ability to work collectively to cope with, if not fully overcome, the circumstances they face," said Steven J. Gold, a professor at Michigan State University and author of "The Store in the Hood: A Century of Business and Conflict."
Despite their dominance in the motel industry, Indian American moteliers are concentrated in lower- and mid-budget markets, with many living in their motels. "Life Behind the Lobby" explains Indian Americans' simultaneous accomplishments and marginalization and takes a close look at how their own actions maintain such a place in society.
In addition to his role as curator at the Smithsonian, Dhingra heads a major initiative entitled, "HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project" (www.homespun.si.edu
.) He is also an associate professor of sociology and Asian American studies at Oberlin College. His first book, "Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities" was awarded Honorable Mention for the Best Book in the Social Sciences, by the Association for Asian American Studies.
"Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream" can be found at Stanford University Press: www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=12125.