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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


policies were “both to protect minorities from the hostility and

racism they faced and to stake a claim for fairness and social

justice” (Cantle, 2012: 88). However, as Cantle further points out,

even if it “established strong support for the concept of cultural

pluralism and the need to maintain the heritage of distinct

communities” (2012: 172), “this approach depended upon a

preoccupation with ‘race’ and mostly concerned the extent and

nature of accommodation of minorities [. . .] based on a static

conception of culture that is positioned on a linear ‘segregation to

assimilation’ pathway” (2012: 88).

Although it could be argued that ethnic identity politics and

race-based multiculturalism, as the policies of the post-war period,

were “right for that time” and appropriate to tackle racism and

discrimination (Cantle, 2012: 56), they have come under

increasing attacks from critics concerned with the rise of ethnic

separatism and a retreat from the shared values that define Britons

of all races and cultures. It is here that the notion of the “failure”

of multiculturalism becomes confusing and treacherous. Instead of

seeking a new model in which the diversity of identities could be

acknowledged, Britishness redefined, and government policies

differently operationalized, many people in Britain attribute the

“failure” entirely to immigrants, and thus reproduce racism. Over

the past decade, for example, there has been considerable debate

among politicians and scholars about whether or not

self-segregation or ghettos exist in the country. On the one hand,

the report by the Community Cohesion Review Team (2001)

accounts for the British government’s, and some people’s,

increasing worry in the new millennium about the formation of

ghettos in British cities, especially after the race riots in the north

and northwest of England, as seen, for example, in the cities of

Bradford, Oldham, and Burnley, where South Asian immigrants

have congregated. The report states: “[M]any communities operate

on the basis of a series of parallel lives. These lives often do not

seem to touch at any point, let alone overlap and promote any