Becoming British Asian
Intergenerational Negotiations of Racism
Negotiations and markers of difference help to separate culture from “ethnicity” (Punjabi) and “community” (Hindu). Thus far, I have drawn on familiar terms for understanding “ethnic minorities, ” such as language, religion, kinship, and alliance. Continuing my focus on the negotiation of culture cum ethnicity cum identity cum community, I want to now discuss racism as experienced in everyday lives. Race is a seemingly primordial factor of identity, culture, community, and ethnicity. Having looked at the complexities invoked in producing identification as Punjabi and Hindu, I compare middle-class Hindu Punjabi parents and children's perspectives of two additional categories of identity: “Asian” and “Black. ” Each of these emerges as a choice of identity resulting from the movement of people from India to Britain. Each is also experienced as anything but a choice of identification.
Race relations have often been overlooked in anthropological works on “Asians in Britain”: indeed some writers (Modood 1988) have challenged the utility of using Black identity as a marker, denying that it can fruitfully contribute to discussions of Asian identity (see also Baumann 1996: 161–72; Brah 1996). Discussions of race in modern social science parlance have turned “from the biological ground of 'phenotypical differences' to the social ground where differences are drawn, defined and 137