«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»
Despite the lack of personal experience with racism and discrimination, Ravanan is much more critical. He is generally concerned about the situation in England. He probably realizes that his live is not representative for the British public and for all ethnic minorities. First, racism and discrimination are less present in London than elsewhere in the country. Further, growing up in a privileged background they are less likely to suffer from discrimination than people in other areas and other social classes. Therefore, his views are interesting. In contrast to Veeran Ravanan thinks critically of both communities without distancing himself from them. He may also be more sensible concerning racial harassment or name-calling than Veeran. On the example of Pradeep we have already seen that the personal impact such incidents have depends on the way youngsters interpret such occurrences. Veeran is obviously not able to criticize neither of the communities which shows that he is not firmly rooted in them. If one feels to belong to one community and must not question this Frübing, 90 belonging, one can also view the respective community critically without loosing attachment to it.
Veeran: But there is more equality now then there’s ever been as far as laws and things like… Ravanan: No, there’s laws but the attitudes are starting to change the opinion of people … Ravanan: …so that shows that the minds of the British people are starting to change and they’re starting to realize that they want all the foreigners out of it… Veeran: I can see *that+ because of fundamentalism and things *…+ there’re a lot of maybe anti-Islamic, being careful here, kind of anti-Islamic things in the media and stuff like that but *…+ on the street and in my own personal experience I can’t see people getting worse. I can only see people if anything getting better. I don’t think there’s you know time in the world when people are as tolerant as that. You look back there was like slave trade and apartheid stuff, I think now there aren’t things like that especially in this country.
Interviewer: *…+ Do you also feel that people have the same chances whatever background they are?
*…+ Ravanan: I mean they don’t actually, the employer doesn’t directly say it to you as in: “coz you’re brown, black, I don’t wanna employ you.” But I mean *…+ its still in the back of their mind. They may just be slightly sceptic to actually take you This argument seems to be characteristic for the two different views on the topic prevalent among British Indian Hindus. Some teenagers like Pradeep and Ravanan are much more critical about the British society’s openness and willingness to integrate and accept others.
And, others believe in multiculturalism and mixture finding no reason to detect racism and discrimination against their community. Further, there are divergent opinions about the impact anti-Muslim sentiments have on the Hindu Indian community. While some like Ranjitham feel affected, other do not see a connection as we have seen in Pradeep’s comments.
Frübing, 91 We’ve had this whole racism against Muslims and often as an Indian *…+ people don’t see us as any different from Muslims and *…+ there had been, on one occasion, when I think soon after the September the 11th attacks, I remember walking down the street and I got this funny looks because people thought I was Muslim and it was just like: “No, no we’re very different!” (Ranjitham) One can conclude that neither racism nor discrimination influences the lives and development of young British Indians in the third generation. In general, one can derive from the discussion that racism is no longer a daily experience for the third generation in Britain.
Thus, it is easier for them to integrate and attach themselves to the British community than for their predecessors who constantly had to deal with rejection and discrimination from the British majority. But, particularly the growing Islamophobia has become influential for the youngsters. They are very sensible of growing anti-Islamic sentiments and feel mistaken for a Muslim in the streets. Hence, they underline and argue strongly that they are not Muslim.
This indicates that there is no identification with other South Asian religious groups.
Particularly interesting are Ravanan’s and Pradeep’s descriptions and criticisms of the English society which on the surface appears open to difference. They detect that equality and multiculturalism are just the surface under which Indians have to assimilate in order to be accepted. Here racial prejudice is still alive although not openly articulated. All interviewees did not feel very comfortable speaking about the subject. Consequently, it may be suspected that they did not tell me about all their experiences as exposures to racist and discriminatory behaviour are extremely painful. Generally, such experiences are rarely spoken about which has been confirmed by the accounts about their parent’s and grandparent’s settlement. This is a way to suppress feelings of exclusion from the British society to which they all feel to belong. (Lyon 1997: 8, Shukla 2003: 235, Ghuman 1994: 139)
3. Conclusions: Post-diasporic diversity among Hansen’s grandchildren
fully belonging to either. They enjoy cultural aspects of both cultures: Eastenders and football as much bhajan44 and Bollywood. Their lives are characterized by the hybridity of two or more cultures and identities. However, as much as they enjoy their hybrid and bicultural life they consciously retain ethnic pride and identity.
I can confirm that the experiences of young British Indians in the 21th century are very different from those fifteen to twenty years ago. Most of the problems the second generation of Indians faced are of no longer significant for the third generation. Also problems which arose from bridging the gap between family and school in the second generation are no longer relevant to young Indians in London today. Their parents do not hesitate to contact the school and get involved in school activities. Parents do not struggle with language barriers anymore. However, many grandparents still only have a limited command of English. Therefore, the communication between grandparents and their grandchildren sometimes becomes difficult because the youngsters do not speak their heritage tongue properly. This has been clearly confirmed through the research. The youngsters welcome the compromises which the generations before agreed upon as well as a better socioeconomic position than ever before. Although there are significant differences within the British Indian Hindu community, many families have generally improved their economic position. This has been achieved particularly though continuous hard work and better qualifications. Having grown up in Britain, most parents understand the pressures their children face better than their grandparents. Nevertheless, most adhere to a traditional Indian education imparting values of respect and discipline. Still, many parents turn a blind eye on their teenager’s dating, relationships and partying as they know that these activities are common in western teenage culture and can hardly be prevented without creating conflict in the family. Despite following western teenage culture to a certain degree, young British Indians stick to core social values like respect for elders and family priority.
Consequently, the interviews proved that family life was very harmonious and arguments focused mainly on matters of education and study.
The investigation ascertains that the alienation from the culture of origin does not multiply itself in each subsequent generation of diaspora. In contrast to what had been expected, Indians in Britain do not loose their culture and cultural habits. Instead, after more than 50 years in Great Britain the Indian communities are very well organized and become increasingly resourceful so that possibilities and opportunities to maintain and pass cultural orientations on are improving. The communities have adapted to their diasporic and Frübing, 93 minority position. They consciously cultivate difference in order to maintain the imaginary community as well as Indian culture and Hindu religion. Thereby, communities, sects and temples make increasing efforts to attract the British Indian youth. On the example of the Pandava Senas we have seen that even young British Indians have become active in order to impart culture and religion. Most importantly young people are very interested in Indian culture and Hindu religion; they are willing to engage actively in their culture of origin.
Constant diasporic awareness encourages people in the Indian diaspora to keep their religion and culture alive through fostering identification with the ethnic and diasporic community. This has been considered in the first chapter. The respondents show a great interest in their heritage culture and religion; they become active in the temple or in cultural activities such as traditional dancing or singing. Thus in general, the interviews and questionnaires rather confirmed the opposite to what had been expected: the attachment to Indian culture and Hindu religion of the young British Indians in the third generation is not declining but rather increasing. This tendency was particularly strong among those affiliated to a sampradaya. In consequence, it cannot be proved that the third generation has only limited understanding and knowledge of their heritage culture. Though some aspects of culture like language are indeed lost, the core of cultural values and norms is maintained with great attention. This interest and identification with the ethnic and cultural community as well as with their country of origin which the young people confirmed was unexpected.
Therefore, the youngsters also showed a great interest to learn their language but only few teenagers accomplish to speak their language fluently. Interest in learning the language is high despite. Concerning language, it turned out that in many theories language may be overvalued as it is seen as a prerequisite for identity and ethnicity. A strong connection between language, culture and identity could not be observed. The results of the study show that Indian culture in the diaspora is continued in the English language just as in Hindi, Tamil or Gujarati. Being multilingual, Hindu religion and Indian cultural expressions are not closely bound to language. Further, religious contexts are generally in Sanskrit which has to be translated anyway. Nevertheless, it is astonishing how easily and fast language is changed.
Culture is continued and lived in another language without translation or significant adaptations. Hence, language is expected to be lost in the following generations. Or, the revival of language as part of heritage culture has not yet started. Can language and culture really be detached so easily from each other? Particularly in the context of regionally and linguistically defined ethnic subgroups like Tamils it is interesting that language ceases to be Frübing, 94 a marker for belonging. This theoretically opens the group up to outsiders as the boundaries to other regional ethnicities dissolve.
However, other markers of ethnicity and ethnic differentiation become more important.