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Defining and Describing Desis

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July 2006
Defining and Describing Desis

A colloquial name for South Asians, people who trace their ancestry to South Asia, especially India, Bangladesh, Pakistan. Pronounced "THEY-see," it is the Hindi word for "from my country" (from the word "desh," which means "country").

- South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) Stylebook

On a personal level, to be desi connotes some sort of ancestral affiliation with the subcontinent and some sort of desire in crafting a sense of identity or feeling of community with others who share that ancestral affiliation.

- Himanee Gupta (Himal Southasian)

It is an umbrella label for a very racially/culturally/linguistically/religiously/ geographically and otherwise diverse group of people, similar to a term like "Latina" or "Latino," or "people of the African diaspora."

WIKIPEDIA: The Free Encyclopedia

Some consider it an epithet. Others a compliment. For the majority, this two-syllable appellation in one word captures the very essence of our being.

- Anita Zaidi (Chowk)

The beauty of the term desi is that it doesn't need a hyphen. It's a subculture rather than an ethnicity. In many respects, that's the point of the novel [Londonstani] – to show how all those various, hyphenated ethnic identities could just blend into a subcultural identity.

- Gautam Malkani (The Indian Express)


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