Authors: Urmeen Mansoor, Dr. Jack Kugelmass
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jack Kugelmass
College: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
This research examines the overwhelming prevalence of Pakistani Americans in the pursuit of — or in the practice of — health related professions, and uses Performance Theory to understand the establishment and maintenance of a professional caste system in the Pakistani American diaspora community. The professional caste system stems from early reform movements in Colonial India that promoted the education of the wealthy Muslim Indians who would eventually become the founders of Pakistan. Following the Partition of India in 1947, proximity to the Hindu caste system resulted in the explicit creation of a professional caste system in Pakistan, as outlined in specific clauses in its constitution. My research focuses on the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA) and why such a niche organization has grown exponentially over the past four decades, and how the majority of a demographic can claim to have a passion for healthcare. Through first hand participation in APPNA, interviews, and observation of various Pakistani Americans, I argue that the professional caste system migrated from Pakistan to America with the diaspora, and that the systems of professional division and division are evident in the tendency of Pakistani Americans to pursue medical professions.