Faculty Biography

Parminder Bhachu

Parminder Bhachu, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Sociology
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: Jefferson 410
Phone: (508) 793-7599
Email: pbhachu@clarku.edu

 


Professor (or Dr). Parminder Bhachu studies the complex movements of people across international borders and interrogates their cultural and technical creativity which makes them particularly adept at navigating uncertainty and fragile worlds.

Many years ago, Bhachu coined the concept of “twice migrants” an all-encompassing conceptual framework which captures the definitive characteristics of multiply migrant groups and their diasporas, all over the world. Culturally dexterous and sophisticated at the management of their minority status, these groups reproduce their durable cultural and technical capital to invigorate the economies they reside in, greatly enhancing their creative capacities and innovative reach.  At the same time, these movers and makers are deeply collaborative, supremely generous, and at the heart of open-source sharing, participative pedagogy, and diasporic crowd sourcing to fabricate an inclusive creative commons. They are munificent with their expertise and resources to facilitate collective intelligence, the common good, and the maker movement. Bhachu brings her unique ethnographic insights to illuminate what can be learnt about surviving and thriving in worlds of disequilibrium and flux.

Dr. Bhachu is a multiple-migrant maker who has lived in four continents, East Africa, UK, Asia, and on both sides of the east and west coasts of the United States. She brings her authentically lived experiences of a border-crossing life to her intellectual trajectory, and to decode why people move to unfamiliar sites leaving behind the familial and familiar to make lives in new lands. What are their distinctive qualities that make them amongst the most risk taking and innovative people in the world? What are the forces which contribute to their expansively distributive and contributive ways of being in world, a modus vivendi and operandi that is diametrically opposed to those of the power elite? Bhachu explores these themes in her work with an authentic deeply lived border-crossing biography.

 

Bhachu is the author of Movers and Makers: Resilience, Uncertainty and Migrant Creativity in Worlds of Flux (2021), Twice Migrants (1985) and Dangerous Designs (2004) and co-editor of both Enterprising Women (1986)and Immigration and Entrepreneurship (1991). She is a Professor of Sociology at Clark University. She has held a Henry R. Luce Professorship in Cultural Identities and Global Processes and has been a Director of Women’s Studies.

 

 

Current Research and Teaching


 We live in times of extreme change. There could be no better time than now to interrogate the lives of new kinds of people, movers and makers, who navigate fragility and uncertainty to create with daring, often against great odds. Parminder Bhachu uses their dramatic life stories to uncover what makes for creativity and resilience in times of disequilibrium. What can be learnt from their creative moxie as innovators outside establishment powers? Why has their creative reach grown exponentially in our globally connected twenty-first century? How have their abilities to innovate been catalyzed without subscription to knowledge hierarchies and monopolies? These culturally dexterous movers who possess movement capital, advanced with every migration, have translated ancient maker and craft skills into transforming modern technology, science, design, architecture, and the arts. Generous, inclusive, and deeply collaborative, they are at the heart of open source sharing for collective intelligence, the common good, and the maker movement. They invigorate the economies they reside in greatly enhancing creative capacities and reach. Bhachu, herself a multiple-migrant maker, offers us a model for a hopeful way forward, bringing her unique ethnographic insights to illuminate what can be learnt about thriving in worlds of flux.

Professor Bhachu talks about Movers and Makers

Dangerous DesignsMs. Bhachu is interested in emergent cultural forms and cultural identitities in border zones and niche markets innovated from the margins by multiply-moved new global citizens. Her work deals with the production, circulation, and marketing of cultural products and commodities in multiple sites around the globe and their interpretation in local contexts. Her latest book deals with diaspora cultural and commercial economies generated through the politics of fashion, subversive style, and diaspora images innovated through women's entrepreneurship in global economies. Her future research will examine the cultural landscapes generated by diasporic expressive forms and cultural producers. These research topics build on her long term interests in immigrant enterprises, multiple migrations and diasporas, race and ethnicity, cultural nationalisms, and consumer and popular cultures in global markets.

Selected Publications

It's Hip to Be Asian: Diaspora Cultural Producers. forthcoming.

Movers and Makers: Uncertainty, Resilience and Migrant Creativity in Worlds of Flux. Routledge, 2021.

Dangerous Designs: Asian Women Fashion the Diaspora Economies. Routledge, London and New York, 2004.

"Distinction and Co-construction: Diaspora Asian Fashion Entrepreneurs in London"
Article in Claiming Individuality: The Cultural Politics of Distinction edited by Vered Amit and Noel Dyck, Pluto Press, 2006.

"Designing Diaspora Markets: London Fashion Entrepreneurs Create New Markets," for Globalization of Asian Fashion , Edited by Sandra Neissan, Carla Jones and Ann Marie Leshkovich, Berg Publishers, in press.

"Multiple-Migrants and Multiple Diasporas: Cultural Reproduction and Transformations among British South Asian Women in 1990s Britain." In The Expanding Landscape: South Asians in the Diaspora . Carla Peteivich, (ed.) Association of Asian Studies Monograph Series, University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Immigration and Entrepreneurship: Culture, Capital and Ethnic Networks. Jointly edited with Ivan light, Transactions Press, Rutgers University, New Jersey, Summer 1993.

Enterprising Women: Ethnicity, Economy & Gender Relations. Jointly edited with Sallie Westwood. Routledge, London and New York, 1988.

Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain. Tavistock, London and New York, 1985.

Selected Courses

Global Cultures and Identities/Lecture, Discussion. Explores the impact of local, national and international forces in the formation of cultural identities at a time of rapid social changes. Focuses on contemporary cultures to examine cosmopolitan identities as they are globally determined. Emphasizes the elastic and the plastic nature of cultures and the importance of time, place and context to understand the emergence of new culturally diverse economies. Examines the social and cultural changes in the new landscapes of our times.

Routes and Roots: Immigrants, Diasporas and Travel/Lecture, Discussion. This course examines immigrants and borders they cross. Also covered are the established older diasporas and the new ones immigrants create through voluntary and forced migration and travels.  How do borders, journeys, migration shape the identies of individuals, groups, cultural objects and commodities?

Global Ethnographies This course focuses on emergent ethnographic concerns that attempt to capture fluid cultural processes and connections as they unfold in the late 1990s global arenas. It deals with multiple-sited ethnography of movement, displacement and replacement, and the global traffic in culture. In this class, students examine transnational connections and commodity circuits that most people are part of in the late 20th century. It is offered every other year.