The Making Of Cambodia Town And Little India

The short documentary “Making Our Homes” offers an oral history of two Asian American enclaves in Los Angeles County.

Still from “Making Our Homes,” a short documentary by Jireh Deng.

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Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States today. Los Angeles County itself is home to 1.48 million residents who identify as Asian. It is also where two distinct and unique Asian American communities exist less than 13 miles from one another – Cambodia Town and Little India. In Long Beach and Artesia, Cambodian Americans and Indian Americans, respectively, have made their homes.

In this two-part short documentary, I interviewed a Cambodian American couple and Indian American woman, the former who has spent a significant portion of their lives building a community in Cambodia Town and the latter who was born and raised in Little India.

Richer and Sithea San arrived in the U.S. as refugees, eventually settling in Long Beach like many other Cambodians. They’ve spent more than a decade building up and supporting their community, whether that’s fighting for the official naming of Cambodia Town or advocating for Cambodian-owned businesses.

Aman Batra was born and raised in Artesia’s Little India, where her family owned a “Bombay Spices” store on Pioneer Boulevard. As an adult, she looks back at her upbringing as a first-generation Indian American and what it means for her to be connected to her family’s culture and the communities that she’s fostered throughout the years.

By documenting these interviews, I aim to preserve oral histories while offering my “research subjects” agency and power over their narratives. More broadly, it offers a side-by-side comparison of two communities to offer a more expansive and nuanced view of the umbrella term “Asian American” in the context of Southern California’s diversity and history.

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Jireh Deng is a queer Taiwanese/Hong Konger American poet and journalist born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley.

Tags: los angelesimmigration

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