chapter  5
14 Pages

New Forms of Britishness: Post-Immigration Ethnicity and Hybridity in Britain

Out of an immigration process which was conceived primarily as the importing of labour to take up jobs in the British economy which white people did not wish to do, there have emerged, for at least some of the migrants and their descendants, new communities capable of and perhaps wanting to maintain themselves as communities. New cultural practices, especially to do with the family and religion, have become a feature of the British landscape; skin colour, identities, place of origin or cultural community continue to shape the personal lives and relationships of even British-born individuals. The importance of cultural and ethnic differences, however, runs much deeper. Ethnic identity, like gender and sexuality, has become politicized and for some people has become a primary focus of their politics (Young, 1990). While not as prominent as in the United States, yet more so than on the European mainland (Baldwin-Edwards and Schain, 1994), there is in Britain an ethnic assertiveness, arising out of the feelings of not being respected or of lacking access to public space, consisting of counterposing ‘positive’ images against traditional or dominant stereotypes. It is a politics of projecting identities in order to challenge existing power relations; of seeking not just toleration for ethnic difference but also public acknowledgement, resources and representation.