chapter  3
20 Pages

Post-war immigration and settlement: Ethnicity, identity and spatiality

There has been a relatively significant Muslim presence in Britain since the beginning of the nineteenth century when Muslim seamen and traders from the Middle East began settling around the major British ports.1

Many Muslims from the British Raj came to England to study or engage in commerce, however the major growth of the Muslim population dates from the post-war immigration of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians to fill specific labour demands in certain declining industrial cities in the south-east, the Midlands and the north of England.2 The British Muslim population has significantly increased in size since then, with many political, economic and social concerns influencing the patterns of migration and the resulting areas of settlement. Factors such as British labour-market needs, dispersion from the country of origin and family reunification have been the main propellants for much of the Muslim migration to Britain and, similarly, in other Western European countries.3 As a result of the limited employment positions Muslims attained at the outset, the majority of Muslim immigrants and subsequent generations became concentrated in a few large cities and manufacturing towns, where certain types of work were originally available but later disappeared, revealing a whole host of deep-seated socio-economic predicaments, which still have not been properly addressed to this day. While there are acute challenges to the lived experience, South Asians nevertheless make an important contribution to

society through the arts, cuisine, politics and the cultural life of Britain in the post-colonial era.4