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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


II. The Ethnic Enclave and Interculturalism

Not only can it be argued that


presents a mockery of

the racist ideology of wider British society, both through the

characterization of a desi-loving white narrator, and through the

creation of a group of affluent middle-class Indian youths who, in

the heavily segregated residential area of Hounslow, pretend to be

a gang living in a ghetto. The novel also provides an alternative

perspective from which to rethink the question of residential

segregation in terms of the ethnic enclave as opposed to the ghetto.

According to





, the word

“enclave” entered English in mid-19th century as a jargon of

diplomacy, whose etymology can be traced to the French word


, with a sense inherited from the Latin phrase



meaning literally “in key” or “to lock up” (enclave, 2014a, 2014b)

In political geography, an enclave is a country, or part of a country,

mostly surrounded by the territory of another country, or wholly

lying within the boundaries of another country, such as Vatican

City, within the city of Rome, Italy, or the Kingdom of Lesotho, in

South Africa. More generally, however, as defined in

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

, an enclave refers to “a distinct

territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within

foreign territory” (enclave, 2014a), such as an ethnic enclave,

inside which an ethnic community resides. Chinatown, in San

Francisco, and Little Havana, in Miami, are well-known examples

of ethnic enclaves. Despite the fact that “ethnic enclave” has

already entered into very common usage in English, in current

scholarship, as David P. Varady points out, “[f]ar less attention has

been given to what is considered a more positive form of

residential segregation

the ethnic enclave

defined as segregation

by choice” than that given to the ghetto (2005: vii).

Even though, as discussed previously, Hounslow is an

in-between place for the white British, as well as the South Asian

diaspora, it is also true that, in Malkani’s novel, the majority of the