SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

The Anthropology of African and Asian Communities in British Society

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2
There have been people of African and Asian origin in Britain for over five hundred years. In this course we focus on the communities they have created after the Second World War and examine whether they have helped foster new ideas of ‘Britishness’. The course examines why people from the ex colonies migrated to Britain and the contributions they have made to British culture and society.

We will look at the social science literature on these diasporas under a number of key debates, including issues of race and nation, political identity, popular culture, education, and social protest in an attempt to understand the different approaches of writers who have written about these issues.

The course aims to highlight that ‘Britishness’ is a concept that has transformed historically and continues to be in flux, and migrant communities have been integral to the constellation of meanings attached to the term. By telling ‘the migrant’s story’, through the experiences of African and Asian communities who migrated here, and the new ‘others’ who have come to Britain, ideas of race, nation and belonging can be viewed through a different, and more critical, lens.


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-Up system.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will develop an appropriate knowledge base regarding migrant communities in Britain post 1945.
  • Students will develop an awareness of methodological issues in the study of anthropological theories of race, nation, migration and diaspora communities.
  • Students will develop appropriate analytical skills.
  • Students will develop appropriate research and communication skills and reflect critically on their own learning processes.

Method of assessment

The written exam will count for 60%. Coursework will count for 40% towards the final mark.

Suggested reading

Sample readings:
  • A Cohen Masquerade politics: explorations in the structure of urban cultural movement (Berg, 1993).
  • P Fryer Staying power: the history of black people in Britain (Pluto,1984).
  • R Littlewood & M Lipsedge Aliens and alienists: ethnic minorities and psychiatry (1982).
  • P Oliver (ed) Black music in Britain: essays on the Afro-Asian contribution to popular music
  • J Solomos Race and racism in contemporary Britain (1989)
  • R Visram Ayahs, lascars and princes: Indians in Britain, 1700-1947 (Pluto, 1986)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules