Suresht Renjen Bald1
All migrants leave their past behind…it is the fate of migrants to be stripped of history, to stand naked amidst the scorns of strangers upon whom they see the rich clothing, the brocades of continuity and the eyebrows of belonging. 2
The notion of origin is as broad and robust and full of effect as it is imprecise…. History slouches in it, ready to comfort and kill…. But the only way to argue for origin is to look for institutions, inscriptions and then to surmise the mechanics by which such institutions and inscriptions can stage such a particular style of performance. 3
Stripped of their belonging(s), and denied their history, all migrants occupy a vulnerable position. But when the migrant is a member of a formerly colonised people and the border s/he crosses marks the land of the former coloniser—as is the case of migrants of South Asian origin in Britain—the narrative of immigration comes to include not only the loss of ‘continuity’ and the search for ‘belonging’, but also the experience and negotiation of racism and colonialism. Relationships between immigrants from South Asia and white Britons are mediated by traces, memories, and history of two hundred years of British imperialism and South Asian resistance (and complicity). At a time when Britain’s economy and international power are in decline, white Britons’ categorisation of South Asians (and Afro-Caribbeans) as the essentially inferior and culpable ‘other’, helps maintain the myth of a superior white race. Thus categorised, migrants of South Asian origin and their British-born children struggle in different ways to counter their hosts’ constructions of them; but these struggles are limited and structured by the discourses that define them.
The diverse realities of migrants’ lives are represented in the works of
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Writing across Worlds:Literature and Migration. Contributors: Russell King - Editor, John Connell - Editor, Paul White - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 70.
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