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common, everyday practice for people to identify and interact with

others across the borders of ethnicity, culture, and nationality.

I. The “Failure” of Multiculturalism, the Ghetto,

and the Asian Gang



, when the rudeboys’ teacher asks them: “Have

you watched the news? Are you familiar with the debate around

multiculturalism?,” Hardjit, the leader of the gang, replies: “Forget

it, man, dis politics shit” (Malkani, 2006a: 125). Nonetheless, the

novel’s complex pseudo-ghetto world lends itself to the debate on

the “failure” of multiculturalism, which I shall approach at two

levels. First of all, the “failure” refers to the decline of

multiculturalism as a set of governing practices for dealing with

community relations when the political climate in Britain began to

change in early twenty-first century. In Britain, multicultural

policies were developed in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to

the post-war influx of non-white immigrants. Commentators have

commonly taken the speech given by then Home Secretary Roy

Jenkins in 1966 “to signal the moment of the beginning of British

multiculturalism” (Gabriel et al., 2012: 268). At a time “when

racism and intolerance was leading to real community tensions”

(Cantle, 2012: 65), Jenkins’ speech offered a nearly positive vision

of multiculturalism: “Integration is perhaps rather a loose word. I

do not regard it as meaning the loss, by immigrants, of their own

national characteristics and culture. [. . .] I define integration,

therefore, not as a flattening process, but as equal opportunity

accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual

tolerance” (as cited in Cantle, 2012: 65). Clearly, just as the

politics of ethnic identity developed during the late 1960s were

viewed “as an attempt by those with little power to affirm their

threatened identities and to assert their claims for material

resources and political clout” (Leach, Brown, & Worden, 2008:

759), the goals of the early and defensive forms of multicultural