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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


are going to teach “a lesson or two for going out with a Sikh girl an

then trying to convert her to Islam” (Malkani, 2006a: 77), Hardjit

and his rudeboy gang stop by a supermarket to run errands for

Amit’s mother, but when they arrive, they find Tariq late because

he “[h]ad 2 go 2 some supermarket wid his mum, innit, help her

carry da shopping bags” (2006a: 99). In the end, as Ruvani

Ranasinha argues, the desi rudeboys’ aggressive gang identity is

faked and performed only ironically to express their

“hyper-masculinity [. . .] in opposition to the overpowering

presence of their mothers who rule the roost” (2009: 302).

While making the rudeboys’ violence and swearing all a

performance, the novel subtly challenges and satirizes, I suggest,

white British people’s fear of Asian gangs as a consequence of

residential segregation. According to Claire Alexander, the

prevalent use of “the Asian gang” to describe Asian youth actually

follows the media’s report of “the arrival of this new ‘folk devil’ on

the urban landscape” and “in the wake of tales of bourgeoning

‘Asian’ criminality and civil unrest” (2000: xiii). The derogatory

appellation “shares with its more embracing generic counterpart

the assertions of threat, of anger, of alienation, of violence” (2000:

xiii). Moreover, in the post-9/11 context, and particularly after

London was hit by suicide bombers in July 2005, “the Asian gang”

narrative worked hand in hand with “Islamphobia” to make South

Asian British youths, especially Muslims, scapegoats for turning

London, the capital of Britain, into “Londonistan.” According to

Omar Nasiri, “Londonistan”

a term first coined in the mid- to


is “a title provided by French officials infuriated at the

growing presence of Islamist radicals in London and the failure of

British authorities to do anything about it” (2006: 16). Aware of

the word as “a mocking play on the names of such state sponsors

of terrorism as Afghanistan” and its suggested criticism of London

as “the major European center for the promotion, recruitment and

financing of Islamic terror and extremism,” Melanie Phillips


British-born Jewish author who was voted “the 2003’s Most