Accepted paper:

Belonging through assertion and pride


Noreen Mirza (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Islamophobia and hostility experienced by British-Pakistanis, has made many second generation British-Pakistanis question their belonging and acceptance in Britain. Consequently, they are asserting their cultural identity as a way of belonging and earning capital.

Paper long abstract:

At a 'women only' dinner dance, organised by two second-generation British-Pakistani sisters, I had the opportunity to observe the women's multiple performances and celebrations of this hyphenated identity. The influence of wealthy Pakistani who had recently settled in Britain had an impact on the second-generation British-Pakistanis. Along with them they had brought an image of Pakistani culture far removed from one that is portrayed in the British media. For the women I observed at this and similar events, the celebration of their cultural heritage was expressed through food, fashion, music, values and nostalgia. It was through a shared cultural background and interests that women established belonging and recognition. Friendships among British-Pakistanis, and participation and interest in Pakistani cultural events earned the women status and capital. Among second-generation British-Pakistanis, interest in their cultural heritage and affiliation with their cultural identity was initiated in the home through parental influence. Friendships with other British-Pakistanis strengthened this identity. It is through these friendships that women celebrate and share a British-Pakistani culture and negotiate values that earn them respect, power and status. The idea of their identity as a British-Pakistani identity was important for the women. It was an identity they could claim for themselves, one which was constructed from their experiences, upbringing, interests and surroundings.

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Piecing life together in impermanent landscapes