the campaign trail recently Tory leader Michael
Howard spoke of ‘a core of Britishness’
that is not just the preserve of white people.
He was echoing remarks made last year by Commission
for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips
– but what do Asian immigrants consider
‘Britishness’ to be? A pioneering
Leeds study aims to find out.
will be the first time Asian immigrants have
been questioned about their identity and attitudes
to Britain. They will be asked why they came
here, about contacts with ‘home’
countries, what they like and dislike about
Britain and which aspects of their culture
they are most concerned to preserve.
leader Andrew Thompson of the school of history
said: “The research feeds directly into
current debates about citizenship, which have
been dominated by politicians, but marginalised
the voices of immigrants themselves. The idea
of ‘core British values’ is an
empty one unless we ask Asian people what
their perceptions of these are and what aspects
of their culture and religion they feel need
to be recognised and accepted.”
histories of immigrants from Commonwealth
countries have focused on the West Indian
community because of their common language.
He added: “We’re trying to do
the same for the Asian community. There are
also cultural and religious sensitivities
to overcome, for example, in interviewing
women from these communities.”
research, funded by the Institute for Public
Policy Research, will conduct in-depth interviews
in a range of languages with focus groups
of men and women from Bangladeshi, Indian
and Pakistani communities in the Ashton and
Hyde districts of Manchester.
research findings will be exhibited locally
and at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum