«The third generation of Indians in Britain Cultural identity and cultural change Vorgelegt von: Abgabedatum: 16.10.2008 Judith Frübing 1. Gutachter: ...»
When cultures meet their cultural habits and activities also meet. However, this encounter must not include a mutual exchange which becomes obvious when thinking about colonial relations. The amount of interaction is dependent on the regulations and norms in charge. In the United Kingdom cultural mixture is evident and inevitable as the various cultural communities live in close contact. Cultural minorities are automatically exposed to habits and beliefs of the majority or dominant group; and they will pick up some habits, norms and values, at the latest in the following generations (Stopes Roe 1991: 147, Allen 1971: 165, Ghuman 1994: 135). Furthermore, certain adaptations have to be made in order to cope and to take part in public life. In order to succeed in the “country of arrival” people have to adapt linguistically and civically, they have to adapt to institutions such as the educational system and to employment patterns. (Ghuman 1994: 135, Anwar 1998: 99) If customs conflict with norms and values of the majority, they often have to be changed. But also without reasons of conflict practices and customs like festivals are appropriated and transformed. In this process reinterpretation takes place around a core of well established values and morals because these provide the individual and the community with emotional and psychological security (Gillespie 1995: 106, Ghuman 1994: 211).
culture and society as well as on those of the diasporic culture and community:
First, it depends on the meanings cultural habits and customs have for the community. Some customs like style of dress are changed more easily than others like marital regulations. This has to do with whether “cultural traits are intrinsic to the core of ethnic culture *or whether+ cultural traits [are] marginal or extrinsic to it” (like dress) (Stopes-Roe 1991: 148). These categories however are not exclusive; some customs may have intrinsic and extrinsic meaning if external markers are based on an implicit meaning which may have a religious inscription, for example (Stopes-Roe 1991: 148, Gillespie 1995: 25).
Second, cultural change and adaption is dependent on the amount of contact to individuals of other cultures. Here, the individual’s willingness to contact as well as the majority’s openness towards the new-coming is important. There needs to be a general readiness to engage with the other and alacrity to make divergent cultural experiences on both sides. As Gillespie points out, this form of cosmopolitanism is the necessary state of mind (Gillespie 1995: 21). Only in such a friendly and open atmosphere contacts are able to increase so that Frübing, 19 customs will change (Stopes-Roe 1991:125). For the generations who already grew up in the diaspora it is easier to realize interethnic and intercultural relationships because they possess the necessary competences and resources though socialization and education in the country (Esser 1990: 95).
Third, the diasporic awareness, which has been mentioned above, and the strength of connections towards home and its culture and communities have a great influence on cultural identity and cultural change. In that context transnational media and communication influence cultural identities and their articulations because “transnational microelectrism” enables communities to uphold strong connections to the homeland and to communities around the world (Vertovec 2000: 155-156). In contrast, the consumption of national media is part of the participation in national life and culture. Thus, on the one hand media offers access to mainstream British national culture and on the other hand allows Indians to keep connected to their cultures and communities. Gillespie shows how South Asians participate in Christmas through the media where rituals, symbols and customs are represented. Further, viewing and understanding British news is valued as a prerequisite for functioning as a British citizen (Gillespie 1995: 101-104, 112).
Young British Indians and their parents selectively adapt and adopt a range of customs and practices in a process called acculturation (Ghuman 1999: 66). Being aware of the differences between the cultures they make individual choices rather than automatically adhering to one tradition. In most cases they try to find a position acceptable to both communities (Lyon 1997: 2). In this process the Indian communities constantly create and recreate their systems of cultural meanings (Gillespie 1995: 106, Warrier 1994: 211).
Particularly, the younger generations of the Indian diaspora favour a certain degree of acculturation. Having been socialized in two cultures, the young generations have more chances to situate themselves in both communities because they have learnt to deal with various frames of reference. They also have more interethnic and intercultural competences.
Thus, they can switch codes easily (Vertovec 2000: 154, Gillespie 1995: 25, Esser 1990: 87).
Acculturation is evident in their choice of clothes, entertainment and friendships. But they also retain constituting aspects of their Indian culture like religion, values and morals.
Further, they are interested in their culture and religion and show willingness to learn more about it (Ghuman 1994: 137, 71, Anwar 1998: 192). However, this does not mean that under the influence of conflicting values and beliefs British Indian youngsters do not question Indian as well as western positions. They compare and contrast the cultural and social forms Frübing, 20 represented to them. (Gillespie 1995: 206) For example, young people discern the benefits which western ideals such as personal freedom and judgement could have in comparison to their community’s collective outlook (Stopes-Roe 1991: 66).
Analysing second generation Gujarati Muslims, Mukadam categorizes the youngsters in five “acculturation types” depending on their cultural orientation: On the extremes of the continuum are those who completely prefer English culture or Indian culture. Those who show a certain degree of mixture are called “symbolic desi” if they prefer western culture but show an affinity to Indian culture and “symbolic western” if they prefer Indian culture but show an interest for western culture. In the middle are those who do not show any clear preferences. It is particularly interesting that all of Mukadam’s respondents adhere to Indian culture in some way with nobody in the first category. Thus, there seems to be a “glass ceiling” to acculturation. With a very small percentage on the other extreme of the continuum almost all teenagers mix cultures (Mukadam 2006: 119-120).
As a consequence of this bicultural outlook young British Indians inevitably create new cultural identities, which will be of great interest in the course of this work. Thus, those concepts represented by denominations like “half-way” or “in-between”, which are based on the idea of two clashing, incompatible cultures, need to be replaced. These constructs have been based on essentialist notions of culture and must be substituted by views which encompass the fluidities and complexities of the young generations (Ghuman 1994: 12, 140, Gillespie 1995: 206, Mukadam 2006: 122) Traditional ethnic divisions are dissolved under the influence of transnational and globalized cultures of consumption, of which young British Indians want to be part. Especially, advertisement addresses adolescents as part of an international market constructing and satisfying needs. For instance, Coca Cola advertisements are associated with interethnic freedom and socializing. The adolescents which Gillespie observed rejected drinks that particularly addressed British Indians (Gillespie 1996: 178).
The cultural mixtures of the young generations, here often Bhangra11 is given as an example, create self-conscious, postcolonial spaces in which they affirm difference and hybridity. They offer British Indian youngsters a proper lifestyle beyond black and white cultural expressions including parental traditions as well as urban English experiences in “remarkable cultural crossovers, ‘borrowings’ and convergences.” (Gillespie 1995: 46, 7) These hybrid cultures constitute a form of resistance to ascribed meanings by western cultures (Lavie 1996: 7).
Frübing, 21 Hence, Asian popular cultures present spaces for the formally marginalized and
disenfranchised. Lavie comments:
Hybrids often subversively appropriate and creolize master codes, decentering, destabilizing, and carnivalizing dominant forms through “strategic inflections” and reaccentuations.” *…+ *S+yncretizations and hybridizations undermine the oppositional logic undergirging ideologies of nations and cultures (Lavie 1996: 9).
In providing new platforms Asian popular cultures, often centred on Bhangra, give the young generations an alternative space for the articulation of culture. Their parents and grandparents set up spaces for cultural expression based on religious, regional or caste affiliations. In contrast, South Asian popular cultures enable communication and cooperation across these traditional religious and regional divisions and allow a creative reproduction of community. New cultures and cultural identities are expected to unite British South Asians under a pan-South Asian culture. Contrary to this move towards homogenization the opportunities and spaces for cultural articulation result in a growing diversification, as the British South Asian youth split into communities of taste following cultural preferences, similar to the Mukadam’s categorization. Nevertheless, these new communities of taste cut across traditional boundaries of region, religion and language. This is typical for postmodern and postindustrial societies with their extreme social diversification. (Werbner 1997: 1-2, 6, 18) Furthermore, Bhangra and in general South Asian popular culture involve an affirmation of Indianness. The young generation self-consciously articulates Indianness beyond traditional definitions of Indian culture thus rebelling against the norms and divisions of their parents and the white majority. (Shukla 2003: 228-229, 231)
1.4 Ethnicity and ethnic groups
From the discussions above it has become clear that the old assumption that people in the diaspora live between two cultures suffering confusion and conflict cannot be supported. In contrast to models of integration and assimilation, which see people in marginal positions, the idea of a bicultural resolution in which the two cultures are synthesized has become increasingly influential. (Rosenthal 1987: 169-170) Nevertheless, ethnicity continues to be a topic in the streets, media and the academy. Obviously there are boundaries and counterdevelopments to cultural mixture. Despite hybridity the subjective ethnic or cultural identification does not necessarily embrace this mixture. Hutnyk criticizes that hybridity Frübing, 22 creates an illusion of mixture and equality, and Schnell underlines that culture, ethnicity and identity must be separated critically (Hutnyk 1997: 8, Schnell 1990: 45).