The politics of ethnicity, identity and religion among Turks in London
'The Politics of Ethnicity, Identity and Religion Among Turks in London' is a study of a micro-Muslim community in Britain. Earlier research on Islam and Muslims in Britain concentrated predominantly on Islam amongst South-Asian Muslims although there is a large degree of diversity in the expression of cultural and religious identity among Muslim communities in Britain. This thesis seeks to come to an understanding of the politics of ethnicity, identity and religion among Turkish Muslims who are a part of this diversity. The main objective of this research is to analyse how Turkish identity is constructed and what are the roles of family, culture, organisations and religious groups in the reproduction and transmission of traditional values to the young generation. This research is expected to fill a gap in research on micro-Muslim communities in Britain. Research methods involved participant observation, in-depth interviews and a survey. Seventeen months of fieldwork in the north-east London and two months fieldwork in Berlin were carried out to collect ethnographic data. During the research, 77 people were interviewed in-depth, 93 young Turks participated in a survey and 29 people took part in group interviews. The thesis begins with a brief account of immigration to Western Europe in general and to Britain in particular. Then, a discussion of theoretical issues on migration, ethnicity and the development of identity is presented where the major anthropological and sociological theories are examined. Turkish immigration to Western Europe in general and to Britain in particular is outlined in Chapter Four and issues concerning family, kinship and reproduction of traditional values are examined in Chapter Five wherein it is argued that Turkish identity is reinforced by the reproduction of family values and kin relations in London. It is also demonstrated in this Chapter that new types of relations are established which are based on wider social networks. Continuity and change in the identity construction of the young Turkish generation are discussed by analysing their attitudes towards language, culture, family, sexuality and religion in Chapters Six and Seven. The process of institutionalisation and analysis of the influence of Turkish organisations on the politics of identity and its expression are presented in Chapters Eight, Nine and Ten. The institutionalisation of Islam is analysed in relation to identity and religious diversity within the Turkish community. The politics of main Islamic groups are also analysed to explain how religion and politics are related and the extent to which religious movements in the country of origin influence Islamic organisations abroad. This research shows that family relations and social networks have played an important role on every stage of immigration and settlement Traditional values are constantly reproduced within Turkish families as an expression of identity and every effort is made to ensure that the young generation are not alienated from these values. However, there is an emergent identity construction taking place among the young generation, generally inspired by the 'local' experience. This suggests that the emergent Turkish identity accommodates continuity and change in relation to Turkish culture, sometimes producing tension between generations. For the young generation traditions, culture and religion are increasingly becoming values for 'symbolic' attachment.