«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»
Ravanan: All I know is in our society, if you marry a brown person, they’re happy; if you marry a white person, they’re ok with it; I mean as you are in this country, but if you marry a black person, you’re a kind of cut up from society. *…+ First of all you don’t really find, I’ve never come across a brown person (laughs) marrying a black person together Veeran: no never *…+ Ravanan: They’re inferior for some reason.
This contradicts Werbner’s and Gillespie’s findings. Both authors argue that the Indian youth identifies with black styles and culture such as music and dress taking them as examples in order to create their own styles and expressions (Werbner 1997: 21, Gillespie 1995: 181Here significant social changes play a role. First, with growing acceptance and less discrimination from the white society different ethnic groups loose their common “other”.
Second, Indians are proud of their “success story” in Britain. They notice that Indian children Frübing, 72 and families often do better in school and on the job market than those of other coloured ethnic groups. Particularly, Black Caribbean children face difficulties to succeed in the British school system.
Middle-class Indians in Brent and Merton do not need to affiliate or identify with other coloured ethnic groups as they face little discrimination and are well integrated. If they orientate themselves on any ethnic group, then these would be the white British. Peter Smith told me about an Indian father who would not send his daughter to the local school because he found that it employed too many teachers of ethnic minorities. Instead, he preferred a predominantly white school for his daughter believing that education was better there. Such attitudes are probably legacies from colonial politics and philosophies, as they sound like considerations about ethnic and racial groups in the 19th century. The revival of such views is influenced by the growing socioeconomic differences between black and Indian ethnic groups in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, there are cultural and religious concerns against interethnic marriage:
It’s the fact that if you marry someone who is not Tamil, it's they don’t speak the same language as you; their children aren’t going to be Tamil. If you have a child with a black person they’re not gonna be a Tamil person, they’re gonna be a mix and then are they gonna be Christian or are they gonna be Hindu and then will they have the same culture as us? Whereas, Tamil people stick together. *…+ You find a good wife who’s a good Tamil wife and who’ll have children who are Tamil and would carry on your religion and stuff like that. I know Tamil people who‘ve married like not so radical as white people or black people but just like Sikhs. Some doesn’t speak Tamil and sometimes it’s a bit awkward coz everything Tamil people do they do together, so parties with Tamil people together or temple or something like that and when a Sikh person comes in, Sikhs are fine, but even then you can see that they don’t have quite same religious. (Veeran) Like in the quote the reasons given against intermarriage where generally of religious and cultural nature. Earlier studies argued that different ethnicities and cultures lead to conflicts within the family and children would not know where to belong. Certainly, the fear of loosing ones culture though mixture is also involved (Stopes-Roe 1991: 47-49, 160, Commission for Racial Equality 1978: 27). From the discussions above it does not surprise that these objections against intermarriage are less important to teenagers in the Brent sample than to those affiliated to ISKCON and Sai Baba. In the sampradaya sample more Frübing, 73 than half of the respondents were uncertain about intermarriage. These results differ from the Brent sample: Among those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award more than half voted in favour of intermarriage and only very few were against ethnic mixture in marriage.
This indicates that there are fewer objections against intermarriage among those who are not so strongly affiliated to religious sects (Appendix 6.7).
In conclusion, it has become clear that in the fields of courtship and marriage cultural change is evident. The majority of the young people considers courtship to be normal and does not want to have a traditional arranged marriage. Still, they do not completely reject their parent’s and grandparent’s traditions but actively look for agreement on a middle way acceptable for all parties. Further, gender, age and religious affiliation influence views on the matter. Particularly, among girls cultural change in the field leads to confusion because girls are more subjected to contrasting pressures and expectations than boys. But, the possibilities and attitudes of the individual teenager depend on the family’s views and customs. Concerning interethnic marriage the affiliation to a sampradaya has a significant influence on the youngsters’ attitudes. Interethnic marriage increases despite being equally accepted in all cases. Here the fear of loosing the ability to pass culture and religion on, social hierarchies and social status are considered.
2.4.2 Towards Englishness and the English way of life “…I’d say I feel more British…” (Ranjitham) For the third generation Britain is their home. It is their country of birth; it is where they grow up and live. The discussion of the results has shown that Britain is the place where they will live in the future and where they will bring up the fourth generation of Indians in Britain.
Moreover, their nationality is British. But in how far do they associate with Britain and its western cultures? Do they feel attached to Britain? And in how far do they integrate into the English society? We have seen that the young British Indians are very concerned with maintaining their Indian heritage and show a great interest and enthusiasm for it. Does this imply a turn away from British society? No, it does not. The youngsters, who took part in the study, are well integrated into the multicultural English society of London. Their lives are characterized by British culture as much as by Indian culture. They enjoy mixing with different ethnicities at schools and colleges as well as in their free-time. Many like and celebrate the openness and cosmopolitanism of their urban environment. In general, Great Britain is considered very positively.
Frübing, 74 In contrast to the second generation of Indians the third generation does not feel situated between two worlds. The gap between home and school, thus between the ethnic community and British society and its institutions, does not exist anymore. Parents and schools hold good communications and relations, which has a positive effect on the adolescent’s development. Having experienced the British educational system and speaking English fluently, the parents are more understanding than one generation before. There is a strong focus on academic success among the Indian ethnic communities. As education and achievement are considered to be vitally important by the Indian community, the young people experience pressure to succeed in the school system. The youngsters often study hard but all of the interviewed teenagers were proud of their community’s success. They identified with these values and norms. Consequently, success in the British school system does not further psychological integration into the British society but strengthens ethnic bonds through a positive identification with their group. Pride in the “Indian success story” and particularly in one’s own family’s story was prevalent in all the interviews as well as in
the questionnaires. Veeran and Ravanan articulated it most vividly:
Veeran: Tamil people, children do really well in this country. Like if you get to the top schools like his school, my school Tiffin, there’s so many Tamil people that is ridiculous. Only think about: Sri Lanka is such a small island and why shouldn’t there be so many Canadians or Americans? There aren’t coz even though we’re from a really very tiny tiny island we get really far because… Ravanan: We’re..., it’s in our blood that we end up working hard and things like that and we’re ambitious.
This shows that a strong identification with the ethnic group remains despite successful structural integration. They do not assimilate to the western way of life nor to all values and views. Rather, they are very aware of the differences between them and British teenagers.
Such differences have not been expected. After having considered the literature on the second generation, I hypothesized that the third generation has incorporated western culture, norms and values even more. Affinity to Britain and western life combined with a high degree of social and cultural integration would enhance detachment from the heritage culture. However, we have already seen that retention of Indian values and culture is high among the third generation. Thus, it seems unlikely that they are willing to give up this connection for a stronger affiliation with British culture.
Frübing, 75 [The English way of life is+ very different to the Indian way of life. *…+ I guess their priority’s slightly different. *…+ Having English friends for me family is very important and I think in some, most cases I found with my English friends their career is more important and their priorities are different *…+ But I don’t condemn, I mean it’s one of those things that we’ve just learnt to integrate into. (Ranjitham) Nevertheless, Britain was generally considered positively. Apart from Pradeep all interviewees valued aspects of Britain and western live and culture. Criticism was particularly voiced concerning race relations. The interviewed teenagers were very sensible about racism and discrimination.
Identity I have hypothesized that the third generation of British Indians creates new ethnicities by fusing western and Indian aspects of cultural identity. We have seen that national affiliations remain although caste and linguistic affiliations decrease due to the loss of language and caste awareness. While attachment to Indianness is high, the third generation also feels British. Hence, the uncertainty concerning identity and belonging, which has been focused upon for the second generation remains in the third. However, as I will show later this ambiguousness does not stem from racism or discrimination but rather from the close attachment to Indianness while actually living in Britain. In the third generation the gap between the ethnic community and the majority culture has become much smaller resulting in less pressures and conflicts. In contrast to the second generation, British Indians today have more opportunity and can choose in how far they affiliate to either community. They must not be Indian nor must they be English. As most members of the ethnic community are well integrated into all aspects of the British society, there is more understanding for western ways of life. Further, through adaptation and change cultural differences have become less stark. Theoretically, the multicultural society in London accepts people to identify with Indianness rather than Englishness. Particularly London has become very multicultural with a considerable laissez-faire policy. Further, it has already become obvious that Indian heritage is considered very positively. Therefore, being different is no longer something one would want to hide. Rather, the respondents seem to be proud of their cultural difference.