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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


racial segregation (1996: 232). According to S. J. Smith, in reality,

“[t]he origins of this iniquitous division of space can be traced”

first to “the economics of labour migration” and to “the politics of

social (including housing) policy” (1993: 128). It is thus too

simplistic, as well as unfair, to claim that residential differentiation

is a racial issue and that immigrants are self-segregating and

unwilling to assimilate into the mainstream society and culture.

Despite the complexity of the factors involved, and the fact of

social inequality implied in residential differentiation, Smith

attempts to shift our focus of attention from the reality of

residential differentiation to the political imagery of racial

segregation because she believes that it is necessary “to recognize

that the ideology of racial segregation informs the legislative

process in ways which further undermine the status of racialized

minorities” (1993: 129). When spaces are divided along racial or

ethnic lines, people can easily align the racialization of residential

space with the racialization of immigration, as exemplified by the

long history of the “practice of imposing discriminatory

immigration controls in Britain,” especially on colored immigrants

(1993: 129). On that condition, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian

immigration can then be “constructed as a threat to the integrity of

Britain’s cultural landscape” (1993: 132).

Furthermore, when the rationale is accepted, individuals can

be assigned to “‘racial’ categories as much because of where they

live now as because of their presumed migrant status,” as seen, for

example, in the so-called “inner city” that is “so conveniently

indexed by ‘ethnic mix’ or ‘racial concentration’” (S. J. Smith,

1993: 133-134). Along a similar line of thought, critical reviewers

of Malkani’s novel associate Hounslow with South Asian

immigrants and South Asian immigrants with the ghetto, as if place,

identity, and race define and complete one another. These

reviewers’ idea of self-segregation in racial and spatial terms

demonstrates that “all spatialities are political because they are the

(covert) medium and (disguised) expression of asymmetrical