SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Britain’s Anglo-Indians: The Invisibility of Assimilation

Dr Rochelle Almeida (NYU)

Date: 14 December 2016Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 14 December 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G52

Type of Event: Seminar

Anglo-Indians form the human legacy left behind on the Indian sub-continent by European imperialism. Known originally as feringees and Eurasians and subsequently as Anglo-Indians, the community claims European paternity while domiciled in India. When independence was achieved from the British Raj in 1947, an exodus numbering an estimated 50,000 emigrated to Great Britain between 1948-62, under the terms of the British Nationality Act of 1948. But sixty odd years after their resettlement in Britain, the Anglo-Indian immigrant community, that I term ‘First Wave’, continues to remain obscure in the sense that so few Britons are aware of them enough to include them among India’s diaspora.

My proposed talk examines and critiques the convoluted routes of integration and assimilation employed by immigrant Anglo-Indians in the process of finding their niche within Britain’s multi-cultural society. As they progressed from immigrants (and indeed, as I have argued, perhaps even refugees) to settlers, they underwent a cultural metamorphosis. The homogenizing labyrinth of ethnic cultures through which they negotiated their way—Indian, Anglo-Indian, then Anglo-Saxon—effaced difference but created yet another hybrid identity: that of the British Anglo-Indian (different and distinct, for instance, from the Australian Anglo-Indian or the Canadian Anglo-Indian).

My recent ethnographic research, conducted amidst the community, has led me to the conclusion that despite attempting to integrate fully into their host nation, Anglo-Indians continue to remain on the cultural periphery. Indeed, it might be argued that they have attained virtual invisibility--on the one hand, they have lost their Anglo-Indianness while not becoming completely British; on the other, in having created an altogether interesting new hybrid sub-culture—distinct from that of immigrant Hindu, Sikh or Muslim members from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in Britain—this Christian minority has ceased to be counted within the South Asian diaspora. The reasons for their invisibility in Britain as an immigrant South Asian community will be the subject of this presentation.

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Dr Rochelle Almeida Britain’s Anglo-Indians: The Invisibility of Assimilation

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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