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«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»

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The following chapters will argue this thesis on the basis of a theoretical discussion and empirical research conducted among British Indian teenagers in London. A lot of literature has been published on the problems and difficulties of the second generation of Indians in Britain. However, although some communities are already growing into the fourth generation hardly anything has been written on the third generation, yet. The leading theories on the third generation of immigrated communities have been produced during the 1930s in the United States of America. They will be discussed at the end of the first part.

Further, theories of diaspora, ethnicity, ethnic identity and culture have been applied. The works of the following authors about the Indian community in Britain have been particularly helpful: Paul A. Singh Ghuman, Marie Gillespie, Ghazala Bhatti, Anjoom Mukadam and Sharmina Mawani, Mary Stopes-Roe and Raymond Cochrane, Steven Vertovec, as well as Pnina Werbner. Most of them are treating the second generation of Indians in Britain. On the basis of their findings the thesis could be derived.

Especially, Paul A. Singh Ghuman inspired my empirical research. Using a scale similar to his acculturation scale and qualitative interviewing, 62 British Indian teenagers gave information about their views and feelings concerning both cultures. The survey was conducted in spring 2008 in Greater London. It is based on two sample groups which were compared. One group of teenager is closely affiliated to a Hindu religious sect and the other contrasting sample was approached through the Brent Youth Service. They take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Following, an overview over the Indian community in Britain, the theoretical discussion of a number of relevant topics like ethnicity, identity and culture will provide a deeper understanding of the correspondences between generation, ethnicity, culture and identity Frübing, 10 central to this work. In the second part the findings of the research will be contrasted with the assumptions and compared to the situation of the second generation.

1. The Indian Community in Great Britain: theoretical approaches

1.1 The Indian Communities in Britain Indians constitute the largest non-white ethnic population in Britain (Anwar 1998: 19, National Statistics 2005: 1). They are far from united and homogeneous but consist of many subethnic communities which in their selves are not homogeneous (Werbner 1997: 1). These overlap and their boundaries are fluent although the communities are generally divided along religious, sectarian, regional, linguistic and class lines. Nevertheless, there are cultural aspects people from the Indian subcontinent share. For example, the orientation on the community rather than on the individual is often mentioned. However, the differences are very important especially to South Asians themselves because they are often related to social hierarchies on the subcontinent and in the diaspora (Bhatti 1999: 119). Furthermore, diversity in the Indian diaspora is not only synchronic but there is also a diachronic diversification meaning the cultural differences between the generations which in the course of time are bound to grow (Shukla 2003: 213, 247). Indians in Britain further separate themselves along lines of taste and cultural preferences. These new differentiations cross traditional ethnic and religious divisions (Werbner 1997: 1). Insofar it is necessary to stick to plurals in this matter.

It is important to keep in mind that the different South Asian communities have got different histories and thus have been subject to different pressures and circumstances. They have faced different conditions under which they have settled in Britain thus having had different opportunities. The socio-economic situation will not be the focus of this paper; although its importance for the daily experiences of people has to be kept in mind (Bhatti 1999: 231).

This work will focus on Indian Hindus including Sri Lankan Tamils, East African Indians and Gujaratis. The groups in focus have settled successfully in Britain belonging to an increasingly affluent middle class.

The economic situation of Indians in Britain appears to be better than of other ethnic groups because the percentage of Indians in the professional category is slightly higher than that of whites and the number of manual workers decreased. The reason for that is the great Frübing, 11 importance Indians attach to education. They stay longer in education than others and thus are increasingly better qualified. (Anwar 1998: 26-27, 29, 31) Today Indians and white Britons share about the same percentage of people without any qualifications. And Indians are less likely to be unemployed then any other non-white ethnic group. This situation is even likely to improve as Indian youngsters are doing better in school than almost all other ethnic groups in Britain (Appendix 4). (National Statistics 8-10, Anwar 1998: 190) For this reason some people speak of the ‘Indian success story’. However, it has to be kept in mind that there is a great polarization among Indians (Robinson 1990: 109). While some families are extremely successful, others remain in poor housing conditions and unstable economic conditions and he poverty rate among Indians is twice as high as that of whites. The high proportion of professionals not only accounts to the Indian doctors in the National Health Service but rather to the high rate of self-employment that characterizes the Indian communities. (Anwar 1998: 26, Modood 1997: 345) Still, in general improvement is obvious

and will continue with growing qualification and less racial discrimination (Modood 1997:


Statistically the Indian groups are younger than the white population. However, in comparison with other South Asian communities such as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, there is a higher and growing number of elders within the Indian community. The reason for this is that Indians were among the first who migrated to Britain in larger numbers. Further, the immigration of East African Indians in the 1960s and 70s included elder persons as whole families fled the changing conditions in postcolonial Africa (Anwar 1998: 23). The age composition of the Indian communities is important to keep in mind because elders preserve the tradition. Children in the Indian community grow up in traditional family units as divorce and single parenthood are still very rare (Anwar 1998: 25).

1.2 The Indian diaspora

The Indian communities in Britain are part of the Indian diaspora. The term diaspora has become common in the last time although its definitions are widely debated and the underlying theoretical concepts have changed over the past decade. In the diaspora a religious or ethnically defined group has been deterritorialized from its place or land of origin and has become transnational as a consequence of a collective migration. Although the diaspora may be a long-term state or even permanent, the sentiment of dislocation and Frübing, 12 separation often remains.4 The diaspora disrupts the temporal and spatial units of analysis of the western world because migration and settlement diversifies the West and deconstructs old binaries of centre and periphery. People, cultures and economics become transnational and characterized by diversity, hybridity and difference. The definition of diaspora which is applied here rejects the notion of scattered communities who attach their identity solely to their country of origin. (Hall 2003: 119, Lavie 1996: 1-2, 14, Brah 1996: 193, 179, Vertovec 2000: 141) “The” Indian diaspora does not really exist. The Indian communities all over the world are very different from each other. They do not only face different living conditions but they also have different histories.

The divergent memories of the social groups, as well as their contingencies in separate geographies, divide and connect, and create altogether different meanings for the Indian diaspora (Shukla 2003: 215).

Some communities like in South Africa exist for more than hundred years while others are only a few years old as in the Arab Emirates. So, if we include all the Indian communities in the umbrella of the diaspora, this must be a fissured, continually negotiated, ever changing construct whose borders are continuous (Shukla 2003: 216). Still, there are strong links and networks between the various Indian communities which span the world and shape lives and identities (Vertovec 2000: 142-143). Especially, using new means of communication and travel, the diasporic communities maintain a strong coherence. Families keep connections to kin all over the world via mail, the internet and travelling. These ties generate a sense of diasporic awareness, which includes the common identification with the Indian subcontinent and its cultures and which unites the various communities creating solidarity (Vertovec 2000: 144, Gillespie 1995: 6-7).

Diasporas are further characterized by a “double consciousness” or an “awareness of multilocality” which Gilroy describes as “being simultaneously here and there”. “Multi-locality” is for many Indians not only in the mind but also has practical implications when Indians travel to the subcontinent for pilgrimage, sightseeing or family gatherings (Vertovec 2000: 147, 149). Living somewhere else Indians in the diaspora feel attached to their country of origin while at the same time their lives are lived in a foreign context to which they have adapted to varying degrees. Consequently, the diasporic individuals are “translated men” according to Salman Rushdie or “cosmopolitical” according to Rapport (Rapport 2006: 181);

Cosmopolitanism and translatedness shape diasporic communities. Though “it is normally Frübing, 13 supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling to the notion that something

can also be gained.” (Rushdie 1991: 17) In this context Vertovec quotes Clifford:

Experience of loss, marginality, and exile *…+ are often reinforced by systematic exploitation and blocked achievement. This constitutive suffering coexists with the skills for survival: strength in adaptive distinction, discrepant cosmopolitanism, and stubborn vision of renewal. Diaspory consciousness lives loss and hope as a defining tension (Vertovec 2000: 147).

Part of this hope is the


idea to return to the homeland. This desire is uphold particularly by older British Indians. The idea of return goes back to the beginnings of the Indian migration to Britain. After the Second World War worker’s migration was driven by the idea to gain wealth and success before returning to India. However, the actual decision was repeatedly postponed for private or economical reasons or because of social affiliations to the community in Britain. Often political and economical instability on the Indian subcontinent added to these. Consequently, return became a myth. The “myth of return”5 has not only symbolic power and offers emotional support in times of uncertainty but also creates social solidarity (Bhatti 1999: 7-8, 24, Rapport 2006: 180). It also encourages people to uphold relationships and connections to the homeland. Hence, people have ambiguous feelings and “divided loyalties” concerning the notion of home because families also have strong ties in Britain as most of them have been living here for twenty years and more (Vertovec 2000: 143). In contrast, loyalty to India as place of origin is based on affection and nostalgia, particularly among parents and grandparents. Their memories often consist primarily of childhood reminiscences. These ideas of home are passed on to the next generations, which may repeat such sentiments even though they have never been to India.

In that way, home itself becomes a myth. (Bhatti 1999: 24, 31-32, Rapport 2006: 180) Such double loyalties are possible and do not hinder integration6 into the British society. On the contrary, the security that the orientation on the Indian subcontinent offers helps people to feel self-conscious and makes them more open to integration (Korte 1990: 157). They do not fear cultural loss and are thus able to allow cultural mixture. I will come back to this matter in the next chapter.

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