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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


ethnicity does not rule everything in an ethnic enclave, and that, in

forming their group identity, the desi youth may be as much

influenced by their gender perspective as by their cultural


If, as Abrahamson argues, “[t]he existence of a subculture

generally presupposes an emotional attachment to a group” (2006:

4), the sense of belonging to different subcultural groups portrayed



defines South Asian diasporic identity in terms of

its internal diversity in an enclave, rather than in opposition to the

white British society, or in the dichotomy between the perpetrator

and the victim. Moreover, through the example of Jas, the novel

shows that “races integrate, not just over time, but as the

subculture matures”

(Graham, 2008a).

Thus, set in the ethnic

enclave in Hounslow, where desis interact mostly, but not simply,

with desis, the novel, instead of representing a monolithic ethnic

community, brings to the fore the intergenerational, religious, and

gender differences of the desis, henceforth highlighting the

inadequacy of ethnicity as the basis of multicultural policies. This

also explains very well the aforementioned issue of “inauthenticity”

as a central theme of the novel. In


, inauthenticity not

only refers to the faked or performed gangster identity of the desi

rudeboys, who pretend to live in a ghetto, but, more importantly,

it underlines the fact that there is no authentic or essentialist South

Asian or desi identity.

The multiple statuses with which the desis in the novel

identify themselves can also find evidence in their use of patois,

which furthermore entails an analysis of the way the organization

and the nature of the enclave have generally changed with respect

to transnationalism in an age of globalization. This also serves as a

good example to illustrate that, “to be successful in an era of

globalisation and super diversity,” interculturalism would also have

to recognize “the dynamic nature of difference and that it includes

wider geo-political and international components” (Cantle, 2012:

168). In the novel, except for Jas, who, in his inner thoughts, or at