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Extra info for A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain
Routine-ised narratives, which cite the movement from first to second to third generation, are represented as containing self-evident explanations. Often portrayed with the certainty of biological processes, the generational movements of immigrants are depicted as analogous to a life cycle in which tadpoles eventually turn into frogs. While there is an argument to be made that age cohorts may in some contexts have sociological and political significance, it does not follow that the only transformations having significant impact on the ‘immigrant’ community result from their socialisation into the ‘host’ society.
Historically the European domestication of post-national ethnic minorities has been protracted, often violent and authoritarian. Where domestication was successful it enabled the national majority to more or less absorb its ethnic minorities and produce a more or less unified national majority in which traces of the former ethnic minorities did not resonate significantly either politically, socially or economically. This did not mean, however, that all the ethnicised minorities dissolved but rather that they became accepted as a legitimate, de-ethnicised part of the national majority.
The Government capitulated by introducing the Common-wealth Immigration Act of 1962. Thus, even during this phase of economic expansion, Asians and other blacks felt less than welcome in their new country of residence. The liberal opinion of the time (and this included sections of academic, professional and political opinion) also saw the question of ‘race relations’ primarily in terms of cultural differences. indb 37 15/12/2005 08:39:16 38 Avtar Brah scribe, either implicitly or explicitly, to the general preoccupation of the period with notions such as the ‘assimilation of coloured minorities’.