Where Are You From? Middle-Class Migrants in the Modern World

By Dhooleka S. Raj | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Questions of Ethnicity

In 1985, at the height of Margaret Thatcher's reign in the United Kingdom, Norman Tebbitt, a conservative member of Parliament, publicly queried South Asian loyalty to the British nation, because these minorities did not cheer for the English teams in international cricket games against India and Pakistan. 1 The infamous “cricket test” of allegiance for South Asians continues to have social and political significance. In May 2001, the headlines again questioned why Asians were not supporting England in cricket. There was, however, a twist. Two major British newspapers, The Guardian and The Observer, quoted England's cricket-team captain, Nasser Hussain, who had publicly stated, “I really cannot understand why those born here, or who came here at a very young age like me, cannot support or follow England. ” 2 Public rallying cries such as these serve as a broader political commentary on the seeming incapacity and unwillingness of Asian minorities to become loyal to Britain. 3 Tebbitt's and Hussain's question of belonging presumes that South Asian cultural integration to British society can be measured and assessed in a specific manner and that Asian minorities arrived in Britain with preformed allegiances to a South Asian homeland that passes through the generations.

In essence, Tebitt and Hussain were implicitly posing the question “When will you belong?” During fieldwork with middle-class Hindu Punjabi families in London, England, I learned that this question and a

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